Welcome to Lalafofofo.org’s U.S./Tanzanian
Student PenPal Program:
Tips & Guidelines
The objective of exchanging pen pal letters with students in Tanzania is to connect and learn about another person who has a very different way of life.
For: Students grades 5 – 8
The students you will be writing to in Tanzania live near Mount Kilimanjaro, and are
members of the Maasai tribe.
• Most have never ridden in a car, have not been more than a day’s walk from their village and have never seen a city. Their houses do not have electricity (so they do not have a computer, wifi, a TV or video games at home) and most drink water that is carried by hand and pumped from a well.
• To your Tanzanian pen pal, English is their 3rd language – at home they speak Maasai, and they learn Swahili and English in school. So please be patient when reading their letters. Also, they attend a government school, which typically has as many as 40-60 students per class.
Your pen pal in Tanzania most likely does not know anything about life in the U.S., and he/she is interested in learning about your culture.
• Explain daily routines you might have, describe your family, what you do for entertainment, what school is like for you, etc. Listed below are suggested ideas for writing prompts.
• In addition to sharing general information about you and your life, remember to ask your pen pal some really good questions. They will be very excited to share their lives with you. One of your goals should be to figure out how your life experiences are the same and how they might be different.
• Lastly, it is always a good idea when befriending a student from another country to stay away from a discussion of all the material things you own or access.
How to Write Your First Letter
• Start your first letter with the greeting, “Dear Friend”
• Your letter will be matched with another student once it arrives in Tanzania
• Keep the letter to one page in the beginning
• Close the letter with your name, your age, your grade, name of your school, the town where you live, state and country
• When the letter is complete please give to your advisor
Advisors – Please mail the letters to:
Lalafofofo Pen Pal Program
79 Jennings Lane
Atherton, CA 94027 U.S.A
• Letters will be fedexed at the expense of Lalafofofo in bulk to our P.O. Box located in Moshi, Tanzania, and picked up by our program manager. Upon arrival in Tanzania, the letters will be physically driven out to one of the following schools: Mlima Shabaha Shule, Sanya Station Shule or Tindegani Shule. Once there, a pen pal match will be made with another student.
• One month is the approximate time for letters to/from Tanzania once completed
Suggested Writing Prompts:
• My favorite holiday is…because…
• Write about one of your favorite foods, and include a recipe.
• Write about your dream occupation. What steps will you take to get there?
• Describe a typical day at school.
• Write about what you see out your window at home or at school.
• Write about your favorite artist, writer, or musician. How do you feel when you are experiencing their art, literature, or music? You can include some images that bring this information to life.
• Write about work/chores that you do at home or elsewhere. Do you enjoy this work?
• What do you think are some of the biggest problems in the world right now? What aresome potential solutions to these problems?
• Write a letter about where your ancestors came from. That’s often a big deal to Americans, since many of us have ancestors who were immigrants from another country. But, even if your family has lived on the same piece of land for centuries, that will be interesting to your pen pal.
• Write about your favorite book or story. Why is it your favorite?
• Who has been the most influential person in your life?
• On a weekly basis, you probably visit several places in your community — the bank, the grocery store, a gas station, the post office, etc. This week, take a look at your area from an outsider’s point of view. What is there to see and do in your town?
• Write a letter about the wildlife around your home. Are you surrounded by deer, coyotes, raccoons, opossums, skunks and rattlesnakes? Or, is the wildest thing you see all day the ladybug on the windowsill? Whatever you see, your life and surroundings will be of interest to your pen pal.
• Where have you traveled and where would you like to travel? What do you imagine those places are like?
• What do you think the world will be like in the future? This could be in the near or distant future.
Thank you for participating!