Five hundred little connections

I just hit a milestone, friends: as of Monday, I’ve sent 500 cards through Postcrossing.

Remember when we talked about how much I love mail? And I shared ways to get involved and the power of the written word? Well, I put my money where my big fat trap is. I love mail and believe in its powers of connection enough that I have now sent 500 postcards to complete strangers. And I’ve loved every minute of it.

If you’re unfamiliar with Postcrossing, it’s an international postcard exchange program which asks users to send a postcard to a participant somewhere in the world. After scribbling a tracking code on your card, the recipient will use that code to register your mail — and you’ll then get a card back from someone else. It’s not a pen-pal program, and the choice to continue corresponding with the person you’ve swapped with is entirely up to you. In my experience, it’s a “one and done” kind of thing.

Over the two-plus years I’ve participated, I’ve received 481 cards from places as diverse as Taiwan, Lithuania, Switzerland, Slovenia, Malaysia and Macau. More than 100 have come from American buddies; dozens of others have arrived from countries I couldn’t place on a map. The cards themselves have featured everything from international recipes to native costume to beaches and mountain peaks — and everything in between. Some have even had poems.

Each card is a surprise — and a tiny sample of the person sending it. I’ve “met” journalists, nurses, architects. Writers and teachers and restaurant workers. Senders are young and old, male and female, gay and straight. They live in cities and farmhouses and apartment complexes. They’re single and married, parents and grandparents. These 480-plus senders fit into every demographic you can think of . . . and no one is exactly like anyone else.

But everyone is a little like someone else.

Here’s what I’ve learned from becoming a frizzy-haired one-woman American ambassador via postcards: people are people. Regardless of your native language, skin color or profession, we are all human. We love our families. Enjoy traveling. Read and write and cook and bake. We work and play, spend time with our pets, look forward to all that’s to come.

When someone sends me a postcard, they share a piece of their life with me — even if only for a moment. The glimpse at life in a far-off land is what makes the Postcrossing experience so appealing. And for someone who loves to travel? Well, “going” to Finland, Italy and Brazil via a piece of paper is a pretty delightful experience.

But I love the sharing aspect, too. Choosing just the right card for someone, telling them about my day or my life or my country, maybe offering a secret or two . . . this is the currency of human connection. When I take pen to paper, I’m offering a bit of myself on these cards — and it’s never rejected.

Postcrossing is completely awesome.

Half the world’s problems might dissolve if we could all send each other some handwritten encouragement.

24 thoughts on “Five hundred little connections

  1. Meg that is so cool! I love real mail so much and constantly send stuff to friends and family all over the world, but now I want to exchange cards with strangers! What a great idea.


  2. This is a fabulous experiment! You will see more diversity than the average American will see in their lifetime through this adventure. I think this would be an incredibly exciting way to “visit” the world. You say many time it is “one and done” but one is more than I have ever received.

    What a great way to have a unique piece of mail included with the dreaded bills and unsolicited mess!


  3. I joined postcrossing last month. So far I have sent about 13 postcards, 7 have been registered, six are still traveling and I have received one so far from Canada. I have loved sending the postcards but the first one I sent still hasn’t been registered and it’s been traveling for 29 days. I get a little impatient because I want to send out more but I cannot until somebody receives and registers the other cards. It’s fun though.


  4. Hi there, write meg.. my name is karina and i’m from Indonesia. I found your blog and like it instantly. and in this post i really like this line of your writing.. ‘and no one is exactly like anyone else. But everyone is a little like someone else’. u really depict a fundamental truth indeed!
    I also felt that same kind of feeling too while holding a pen to a paper. there’s nothing like writing a piece of us..


  5. Wow, this is so cool. Now my mind is whirling. What do you say? Do you send one when you visit somewhere, or do you send one from where you live? Anyway it is fascinating. I may have to try this. Like I need more to do.


  6. Meg. I don’t get around as often as I’d like and when I do I always feel like I’m in a hurry to read a million things at once. But I have to tell you how much I love your blog and your writing (and your gorgeous pictures). You always seem to hit just right where I’m feeling at the moment and even this little post has me a bit teary-eyed at your compassion and zeal. Care and Kelly/Kailana have inspired me lately with their own letters and postcards to pick up the pen more often and I think I’m going to test the Postcrossing waters. xo


  7. That was so beautiful! I agree. One of my favorite sayings is “Everyone smiles jn the same language.”

    This sounds like an interesting program- I might join some time soon. Thanks for sharing this with us!


  8. Such a beautiful post, Meg. A few years ago I joined Postcrossing with my son and we sent and received about ten cards – but then life got busy and I forgot about it. Thanks so much for this reminder! I’m like Trish – I’ve been so inspired by Care’s letter-a-day year and now after reading your post I’m doubly inspired to start sending out little missives in the mail.


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  10. I love this and I’m going to have to try it. TIny connections all over the world! I’m curious – what do you do with the cards you receive – do you display them, keep them in a stack and shuffle through them from time to time?

    I’ve added you to the weekly quote round up on my blog, because this was very inspiring. Thanks! -Amy


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