PenPal Friend /  友 / bǐyǒu péngyǒu

In today’s world, fostering global citizenship in our youth is more important than ever. Penpal Pengyou – “pengyou” is “friend” in Mandarin – encourages American and Chinese students to get to know each other online through projects structured by their teachers, creating personal connections so that students can discover similarities and appreciate differences about each other. Each student communicates with a similarly-aged student in a paired classroom through technology and these American and Chinese youths engage in opportunities to share, learn about, and appreciate each other’s culture, history, and traditions.

How does Penpal Pengyou work?

  • 1990 Institute will pair classes in China and the U.S. by connecting teachers.
  • Teachers will work together to design projects. The pen pal format is very flexible and teachers have the freedom to create collaborative activities specifically for their classes. Lessons may include letter writing, video recordings, art making, storytelling, local food, or map making, for example. Curriculum connections can be made to language arts, social studies, arts, environment, geography – every subject area!
  • Ideally, students will communicate with each other through their teachers’ supervision, online.
  • Samples of Penpal Pengyou activities will be posted to 1990 Institute’s website to inspire other teachers and create an online community for participating teachers, and schools.

What do students gain from participating in Penpal Pengyou?

Students will practice 21st Century Skills of critical thinking, creative thinking, collaboration and communication while working on projects that might include performing, public speaking, collecting data, exploring local habitats, creating artwork, or writing a biography. Understanding different cultures and perspectives is an essential component of Common Core standards, and prepares students for success in college and their careers. Penpal Pengyou plays a key role in widening students’ horizons and introducing them to another culture.

How do I learn more?

Email us at to learn more.

See also:

Penpal Pengyou for Teachers
Penpal Pengyou for Parents