4-H Youth Make International Connections Through Pen Pal Program

For the second consecutive year, a partnership between Wisconsin 4-H and Tabur Kencana Nusantara provided opportunities for over forty youth in Wisconsin and Indonesia to connect and learn from each other through the Spring 2022 Pen Pal Program. Participants were between the ages of 14 and 18 and represented twenty different counties and nearly a dozen islands in Indonesia.

Wisconsin participants were matched with an Indonesian participant based on age and self-identified interest. Participants wrote to their international counterparts throughout the duration of the program. Building upon the successes and feedback from the 2021 Wisconsin/Indonesia Pen Pal Program, six “Zoom Connect” sessions were held for all participants to have a chance to connect, learn from, and learn with one another. The first two sessions focused on language where Wisconsin participants were able to learn common greetings and phrases in Bahasa Indonesian, while Wisconsin participants taught popular American slang and phrases. The third and fourth sessions gave participants an opportunity to share an aspect of their own culture that is meaningful to and engage in discussion regarding the similarities and differences of schooling between Indonesia and the United States. Topics of particular interest were winter sports such as skiing and ice-fishing, experiences that the Indonesian youth were not too familiar with due to living in a tropical climate. During the final two sessions, Wisconsin participants had the opportunity to cook Perkedel, a type of potato croquette common in Indonesia, while a Wisconsin participant led everyone in making homemade caramel apples and caramel apple sundaes.
Hear from Violet, first-time Pen Pal Program participant from Dunn County, as she reflects on her experience:

“Hi, my name is Violet, I’m 15, and earlier this year, I heard about the International Pen Pal Exchange Program which was partnering with Indonesia this year. It looked very fun and I really wanted to make a new friend, so I signed up. I was accepted and they gave me a quick profile of my soon-to-be pen pal. They had picked out a girl who was my age and who had many of the same hobbies and interests as I did. We both decided to be virtual pen pals (texting and email) and we got to be really good friends. She knew English very well so it was easy to have great conversations and discussions. I even learned a tiny bit of her language, Bahasha Indonesian. We loved sending pictures and videos of our pets to each other! 🙂 We also loved sharing about each other’s culture. I learned a lot about her religion and traditions. We still are pen pals even now that the program is over, and I think we will be friends forever. :)”

To be the first to hear about upcoming opportunities and programs, or to learn more about WI 4-H International and Global Citizenship Programs, please complete this brief form or visit us at wi4hinternational.org.

Participants sharing their finished potato croquettes and caramel apples.
A few participants sharing their finished potato croquettes and caramel apples.

Wisconsin 4-H International Programs emphasizes the 4-H values of belonging and understanding. In today’s ever changing world, the skills of global citizenship become more and more important all the time. Wisconsin 4-H International promotes opportunities to build bridges with others from around the world through cultural exchange and encourages cultural exploration through educational programs. Find more information at wi4hinternational.org.

Tabur Kencana Nusantara (TKN) is a non-governmental organization that creates active collaboration of youth movements in Indonesia through holistic education programs in Agriculture, Health and Environment, as well as Education and Culture in order to support and campaign Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) as determined by the United Nations. Tabur Kencana Nusantara has a vision to create a young generation with quality, character, cultured, global perspective, concerned about agriculture, health, and environmental conservation.

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