Our school secretary at Sibelius High School has an Italian penpal for the past 20 years

Estelle showing me her penpal treasure file.
I was fascinated to learn that Estelle, the secretary of Sibelius High School, still communicates with her penpal in Italy. The relationship has been going strong for the past 20 years! The two penfriends met when Estelle was about 14 years old. Estelle says she and her penfriend have been through all the normal experiences in life, together. They were there for each other as teenagers and now as adults, share the excitement and disappointments of love, family and career.

Estelle says they started off, solely communicating via letters. Nowadays we have other forms of communication like e-mails and the various social media platforms. The lifelong pen pals have now shifted mainly to sending e-mails and making the odd telephone call.

"We don't write letters anymore. We have also become more hip, moving with the times. We know each other so well. We know each other's writing style and we can chat forever when we phone. All we need now is to see each other face to face."

While Estelle was sharing her story, she was flipping through a file that contained all her penpal treasures: copies of their e-mails, pictures of her penpal over the years and even pictures taken of all the gifts Estelle had sent her penfriend. While she was poring over these prized items, Estelle's face reflected such a lovely tenderness.

I loved this personal insight into Estelle. She is one of the most efficient school secretaries and her knowledge of how the school administration works is commendable. Whenever I visit the school, the first part of our conversation will always be about my well being, burning questions she may have about a pressing administrative issue or we would talk about community issues. Usually during our brief exchanges, we don't really have a chance to talk about her interests because the Head of the school would be ready to receive me.

Fortunately today, the Acting Principal was engaged, so we had a much longer time to chat. Thank goodness for this lucky break because I met an ardent penfriend supporter, a social activity which is almost a dying art.

Further good news about these pen pals is that they will see each in person soon. Estelle and her husband will be visiting her pen pal in Italy during August this year. I am sure they are going to have a ball!


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