Pen-pals!

I love all of my travels, but my favorite times are when I get to stop and visit with my good friends! In my school we have a program where every year we pick a student from somewhere else in the world to be pen-pals with. The pen-pal program helps us with our writing skills, very important for me! When we get letters back, we also learn about other places and their cultures. Having a pen-pals is super cool, especially now, when I can't really travel and meet up with friends.

I have three great friends that I met through my pen-pal program. Zed, a zebra from Kenya, Farrah, a sloth from Costa Rica and Kobe, a kangaroo from Austrailia. I've acquired others along my way, but these are the three I write to almost every week.

Kobe is actually a teacher in Australia, who decided to take part in the program with his students. I thought that was really neat, so I was excited to write to him. I got to visit him and his family in Australia and learned a lot about kangaroos! Did you know that the mother kangaroo has a pouch on her stomach that her baby gets to ride in! This is really different from giraffes! We have to get up and walk on our own soon after being born. And the baby kangaroo is called a joey, while baby giraffes are called calves.

Australia is a really big island country in the Oceania. In fact, it's so big, it's not just a country. It's its own continent!

We had a really fun time together at the beach and then I got to visit their home in the outback, a remote desert like area in the country's interior.

My friend, Zed, lives the closest to me, in Kenya. So we are both on the continent of Africa, but where I live in Zambia is in the middle, while Kenya is on the east coast. Zed has been a couple of times to the coast, which is on the Indian Ocean. I've never been to the ocean in Africa, but that's okay. I will some day!

Do you know if a zebra's stripes are black or white? Well, Zed said, it's kind of both. You see, they have dark skin underneath their fur, but the fur grows from individual hair follicles. I learned that something called, melanocyte cells, is what creates the color. In the white fur, these aren't active.

Zebra stripes are unique to each individual, just like giraffe spots are unique to each of us. Isn't that amazing! I never get over how unique each and every one of us is! Even identical twins, will have something that makes them unique!

Zed's family lives in the grasslands and graze for their food. I was good with that! I like trying all kinds of foods, and zebra food is a lot easier for me to reach than giraffe food, which is mostly high leaves that I have trouble reaching. So, I adapted really well to Zed's home.

I haven't had a chance to visit my friend, Farrah, the sloth yet, but we do get to face time.

Farrah is writing her own book, because like me, she has a very special story to tell about learning to fit in when you are different from what most consider normal.

Sloths are known for being super slow moving, but Farrah is a fast sloth! She had a really hard time fitting in at school with the other sloths and spent most of her time playing with the monkey's. Some of the monkeys wouldn't play with her though just because she was a sloth and she got teased a lot.

I know haw she feels, because being a giraffe with a short neck, I was teased a lot too, even by my own sisters.

So, I introduced Farrah to my friends at You-nique productions and they promised to help make a book about her story!

I sent her copies of my books and she is sharing them with her friends. I was glad that we have the first book done in Spanish, because that is what they speak in Coasta Rica, but Farrah is learning English and I am learning Spanish from her. I look forward to sharing her story too! Maybe we can even travel together. Now that would be fun!

I hope everyone has a chance to get a pen pal! I wouldn't trade mine for anything!

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