West Valley Thinks Globally – Pen Pal Misson to Oz

By Avi Vieira

After weeks of anticipation and suspenseful buildup; one•n•ten West Valley youth gathered to discover the opportunity to participate in a pen pal program with another LGBTQ youth organization from around the world. The evening began with the question of what exactly is a pen pal as many youth have only vaguely heard of the term, and wondered how it applies these days. West Valley was given the opportunity to connect with LGBTQ youth group Tewnty10 from Sydney, New South Wales Australia!


Our group was then asked to discuss what exactly they would like the project to look like from our end: written letters, video messages, private Facebook pages, and group care packages were all brought to the table, and allowed the youth to fully determine the look and feel of this project and make it their own as they worked out what they want to share with their counterparts from the land down under such as who we are, what we do, why everyone comes to one•n•ten, and general descriptions of what life is like being LGBTQ in America and in Arizona in particular. No doubt, there will be plenty of questions from both sides regarding Obama and Kangaroos, Cactus and Koalas, to say nothing about holidays and seasons!


By the end of the evening, the youth seemed pretty enthused to participate in the project and start thinking what their first messages will be. Questions were raised from the group about Australia and Sydney that will no doubt begin the dialogue between the two groups that has everyone excited at the prospect of connecting with peers on the other side of the globe, share stories and experiences, and build friendships that go beyond borders or vast oceans that could potentially change lives and last a lifetime.


*Special thanks to one•n•ten’s very own commodore Molly Stump for her work in putting this project together!