Global From Home: Friendships Around the World

Pen pals, writing clubs and other ways to cross borders

In 2011, the UN General Assembly proclaimed July 30 International Day of Friendship. The day is rooted in the belief that friendship between peoples, countries, cultures and individuals can inspire peace efforts and build bridges between communities. To honor the day, this week we’re presenting ways to stay global through cross-cultural friendships



“Several programs were started, amongst them a pioneering project that brought young Irish and English teenagers together,” writes Colum McCann in his essay “So Long Out of Ireland” in Stranger’s Guide: Ireland, which you can read on our website. “The 30 young people met in person to discuss the theme of identity. They talked of bullying, self-harm, sexual violence, eating disorders, the prospect of Brexit. They stepped into one another’s shoes. … Each felt dynamically changed. Friendships were forged.”



Once upon a time people kept in touch with friends in other countries via snail mail. And there were organizations that put people who had never met in touch this way. While today, it’s as easy as logging on to Twitter or Facebook, there was something wonderful about waiting for a handwritten letter to drop into the mailbox—and there are still services that provide this. Check out Global Penfriends as a family friendly place to meet new pen pals from around the world.


In 1971, only a thin piece of barbed wire separated the US and Mexico; today, a pair of massive metal walls stretches into the ocean. But California’s Friendship Park on the US–Mexico border is one of the few places where people in the US and Mexico can see and speak to each other. This short film shows the evolution of this historical place.




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