[Profile] Missives: Adventures In Letter-Writing

[Profile] Missives: Adventures In Letter-Writing

Photo Credit: Yanni Santos, M.A.I.L.

Snail mail being phased out? Not for this club!

Jennifer Zhong, News Editor

Missives: Adventures In Letter-Writing or M.A.I.L. is exactly what it sounds like – a club where like-minded people can gather to write letters and participate in letter exchanges. Where should you send your letters? How does snail mail work? The Mike sat down for an interview with Jullianna (Yanni) Santos, co-president of M.A.I.L. to find out more.

What is M.A.I.L and why did you and your co-president Malavika decide to establish it?

Our club started as an initiative with the student initiative fund at U of T last winter semester. Because of the pandemic, a lot of students weren’t in Toronto, so we wanted to pair up people to be pen pals. And it was pretty successful we got like 40 plus for the initiative. And then we noticed that we had so many signups, more than we could even accommodate for and we’re like hey, maybe we should make a club with it. Hence Missives: Adventures In Letter-Writing or M.A.I.L.

How did you find the pen pals?

We wanted to make a very inclusive advertising campaign, but we were limited to online means. So, we went on every Facebook group we could find, we went on Reddit, we went on Instagram. It was amazing, we’re at about 80 people in membership now. And we get people from different programs and different campuses, so we have people from UTSC and UTM, and we have people in their master’s degrees.

Where are most of your members located? What are your international partnerships?

Most of our members are in Toronto, but we are collaborating with international universities and clubs. For example, our current ongoing one is this pen pal collaboration with the University of Melbourne in Australia, with their C.L.A.W.S. for the Creative Literature And Writing Society. A potential one that will happen soon is with a University in Manila in the Philippines– Far Eastern University (FEU) to be exact. And I think there’s also one with the University of Aberystwyth in Wales. So, our international partnerships are on a rolling basis.

What draws students to M.A.I.L.?

Well, U of T is large you know, and especially with COVID, it’s hard to meet people. Malavika and I, we’ve always written letters to each other, and it kept us close even though we can’t always meet up. But the importance of taking things slow and doing small creative acts of life, to connect with others, was something we learned in our first and second year. And I think that’s what people like about the club: you get to write to someone, meet people and it’s not anything that requires you to maintain it. I mean if you sign up to be someone’s pen pal and don’t ghost them, you know, but I think that’s what they like. They get to be creative and slow down, and it is delightful to receive a letter, or to send one out.

Can you tell us about some upcoming events?

October is spooky month, so we have a murder mystery event in 2 weeks. It works like that game mafia that people play at parties, except you do a lot more writing. We will be having a murder mystery, but people get to write letters based on the role they get and then we read the letters. 

Is there anything else you would like to tell students?

Join the club! We have hypothetical cake.

M.A.I.L. has a website and Instagram page. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.