Goodbye 2017!

Overall 2017 was a year of many trials and errors, revamping, and best of all growth.

We want to take this time to revisit all the milestones that we reached to get to the end of this year. We also want to take time to thank all of our supporters as well!


Moments of Insight and Inspiration

Meeting educators and learners is our priority, and in order to do so, we travelled to the various events and exhibitions all over the world in 2017. The team took road trips all over South Korea. They went to Singapore and San Francisco. Currently, one teammate is in Africa. Travelling has allowed us to meet an array of educators from all over the world. Thank you to all of the educators who stopped by our booths to chat with us. Thank you to all of the users who gave us the feedback. Thank you to all of the supporters who gave us a platform to talk about Storypal.

New members!

This year we grew from 3 members to 5members.   Musa Dan Kamari is our ace business developer. We are fortunate to have such a talented individual on our team. He brightens up any room he is in with his tenacity, charm and positivity.  He is currently in Kenya talking to school administrators, teachers, and students.                                                Our second team member is joining us on a voluntary basis. Sam Ng was one of the awesome people we met in Singapore. He understood Storypals values and goals immediately. He is a talented developer who is helping us conquer new feats.

Research and Kickstarter!

Sumbal Shaffi does the majority of the blog writing for Storypal. I am actually writing this post right now. Hi! The research and the Kickstarter were two projects that fell under my jurisdiction. I was half expecting to get the research approved, and half expecting to not. Thank you SFUSD for approving it.                                                                The Kickstarter was one of the biggest challenges. I had to really put myself out there, and ask others for help. I can’t say thank you enough to everyone who supported Storypal through this time.

The Storypal Site

The Storypal site is malleable. We work in a cyclical fashion. First, users use our site. Then, we meticulously gather feedback from them while they use it. Finally, we collect that data and then make changes to the site. We repeat this process every semester. Hours upon hours of coding go into changing the site. Heehwa Choi is our CEO and our CTO.  She has really pushed herself this year to make the site better every passing month of 2017.

Our Lovely Users

Educators, thank you so much for another wonderful semester. We would like to thank all of the students who shared their thoughts on how to make the site better after they used it.  We would like to thank all of our educators who used the site in their classrooms in 2017. You understood that the site was a work in progress and you were patient when issues arose. The persona of a Storypal teacher is an educator who wants to show their students the vastness of the world and share its beauty with their classroom. The Storypal team can say that all of our educators fit this criterion.  We deeply appreciated you all. It has been an awesome journey working with you this semester.

What is next?

We are in the middle of the school year. We have a lot of announcements coming up in 2018.  But more than anything, we sincerely and humbly look forward to helping you connect with even more classrooms next semester.

Happy New Year from the Storypal Team! May it be a year of health, happiness, and golden opportunities.

Busan Beat Article: an Abridged History and a Bright Future

Hello! We recently have been published in Busan Beat. Musa, our business developer, wrote a lovely article that I am sharing with our blog readers. Enjoy!

International pen pal exchange projects are popular among language educators
because of their practicality in making language learning alive. Every day, on
various online teacher community boards, English teachers around the
world update messages looking for pen pal partners. The teachers seek
to provide opportunities to students to practice languages outside of the
classroom and to gain more cultural exposure.
However, the traditional pen pal projects demand a lot of time from teachers
as they need to find partners, arrange student communication methods and
logistics. In 2011, it was no exception for Heehwa who later co-founded, “Storypal.” She was interested in connecting Korean elementary students with their peers in Kenya. Through an online introduction to an after-school mentor in Nairobi, she got a chance to implement the exchange project between 2012 and 2013. Although she was able to find a partner, in many aspects Heehwa encountered the difficulties that are common in traditional pen pal projects.
From this experience, Heehwa wondered if there could be a sustainable support
the mechanism for teachers to facilitate international exchange projects in
classroom settings. The idea further developed in 2015 when she met Sumbal,
a Pakistani American who at the time was teaching at an elementary school in Korea.
Together, they started reviewing concepts and requirements of pen pal projects and interviewed Korean teachers who had previous pen pal experiences. Through these discussions, Sumbal and Heehwa decided to build an online platform specifically designed for like-minded teachers to address the challenges faced by traditional pen pal
projects. The two co-founded Storypal Inc. in 2015.
With the vision of providing an easy, safe and fun platform for educators
and learners to collaborate globally, the site officially opened in March 2017.
Having the head office in Busan and a research project in San Francisco, the site
currently supports early users, many of whom are from these two cities.

Storypal contributes to Busan’s vision of being a city thriving with talent, technology and culture by not only connecting teachers and students to international communities, but also improving their cross-cultural communication skills. All teachers can join for free. New members in Busan and San Francisco can request the Storypal team to visit their schools for orientation and boarding on Storypal.

More information can be found at

Connections, Storypal, and YOU.

Why do we spend so much time sharing, liking, and viewing content on our favorite social media apps? How many events, meetups, and parties do we attend each year trying to meet the “right” people? Who was the last person you spoke to?
Connection is innately part of the human experience online and off.

We are connectors, connecting, and connected.

Connection is powerful force that pulls us to action, to think, and to try.
Storypal wants to take this naturally occurring human behavior and use it to change the world.

By helping educators and learners connect with other educators and learners worldwide.
There are so many apps that connect individuals to other individuals, but not enough that connect classrooms to other classrooms.
When learners are at their most impressionable, they need the most exposure.

Firstly, because educators deserve as many resources as possible to help their careers flourish. A larger community could unlock even more creativity.

Secondly, because connecting educators and learners internationally is one of the most effective ways to engage a young learner in practicing their communication skills, their social and emotional learning, and their cross-cultural understanding.

If you are not an educator, then why should you care?

Well, most societies are already benefiting from different channels of connection. The very act of being connected to another place isn’t the end result for Storypal. The end result is expanding someones understanding and giving rise to opportunities.

How many opportunities have come your way because of connections?

Educators and learners are missing out on what should have been a key component of education from the beginning, but many factor kept this from occurring.

This is the best time for them to be connectors, connecting, and connected.

How can you help?
Be a connector.
Promote Storypal to families, schools, and cities everywhere.

Create a new path for educators and watch learners creativity launch to new heights.

Summer Time Food: Nangmyun

Food is always a good starter conversation for culture. I am using it as a topic for my sixth graders. It is a light topic and everyone has an opinion on food. Although I am teaching my students about food, I want them to be mindful and thoughtful. I want them to see how food is dependent on religion, geography, and other factors. I am focusing the next few posts on summer time foods.

Nangmyun is, for the most part, a summer time dish. Summers is in Korea are hot and humid. Nangmyun is a cold noodle dish. The  nangmyun is usually made of buckwheat noodles. What makes Nangmyun a summer time dish is that the chicken broth/beef broth has  small pieces of ice inside of it.  When you take a bite into the noodles they taste tangy and fresh. It is perfect on a humid day.

Nangmyn is unlike anything I had ever tried before. I am hoping that my video inspires teachers and students to share their favorite summer times foods from wherever they are.

Teaching Culture to Your Students

Culture is both an important and complex idea that students must learn.  I needed my explanation of culture to be simple enough so that my sixth grade EFL students could easily grasp the concept. I chose to focus on the three concepts living, thinking, and behaving. Culture is how people live, think, and act based on where they are from.

I know that the definition is quite simple, but I believe that the concept of culture will evolve as my students move up in grade level. Over the next few weeks I will be making short videos around Seoul that explore culture. I am starting with how people live because that covers the basics of life (food, water, sleep, and shelter.) I am really excited to see how this experiment goes!