A SMART USE OF TIME: CYBER FRIENDS ACROSS THE WORLD

What do you have time for?

Unlike my fictional character Harold (Soup and Sandwich), who I have brought by for a few visits, I’m not particularly well-organized. I wish my apartment could be as neat and clean as the one I attribute to the Commander of Clean, Director of Dishes and Lord of the Laundry. Instead I am King of Clutter. No matter how hard I fight, I am losing the battle against my possessions.

Even so, I try to effectively allocate my time. Certain times should be assigned to particular activities. Work and commuting take a big chunk of life. While I ride back and forth in my General Motors car which has miraculously escaped recall, I think about ways to fill the other hours including the topics I should let loose on Word Press. What adventure, or misadventure Harold should have next.

Entry to the College

When I sat down at the computer to coördinate all the thoughts running around in my head, I got a message on Skype.

“U there?”

It was a guy I’d never met in person, but had talked to often.

He lives in the middle east. I’d met him on the language learning site, Livemocha, when it was also a social site. Its members helped others learn the language they already knew by correcting exercises and chatting in text and voice.

During the past two years, we’ve become friends. Our talks have covered a wide range of topics. If you think you have it tough, talk with someone who lives where the power goes off each day at 6 am and stays off until 2 pm. Obviously, there is not enough power to go around in his homeland.

The differences of our personal circumstances is offset by the similarities of our ideas and concerns. We both can see futures we would like to have. It seems that when you have a computer and some power, no matter how fleeting, you can dream as big as cyberspace itself.

So instead of spending my Saturday evening creating great thoughts for this site, I spent more than two hours helping my friend study for his English competency exam. He sent me pages of text to read and questions to ask. He sent audio passages to go with the text. He reported to me in his timed responses what the text and audio where telling us. We moved past grammar, on to reading comprehension, then conversation. He has a week until his exam. That week contains his hopes of moving on as a language student.

Why would I give up my Saturday evening for this? Why would I spend hours reading passages and questions out loud to this young man? He is a nice person and I have enjoyed our talks, but I’ve never met him, maybe never will.  And I really wanted to do something else.  My mind was set on a particular activity, and it was not English grammar.

Yet, he is a friend. He reaches across cyberspace to ask me to lend a hand. Nice to know I can contribute to someone’s education. Education is the most valuable thing we can ever have. Even if you win the lottery tomorrow, your knowledge will remain your most precious possession.

If my friend benefited at all from the few intense English sessions we had recently, I think I got the better of the deal. He showed me what life is like in a culture different from mine. I am patient as he goes through his exercises. He is patient with me as I ask questions about his life. Some of my questions are no doubt naïve, but I’ve learned so much by asking them.

If he’s successful and becomes a language student, I hope we get to meet. He has taught me an enormous amount by asking me to read aloud and pose questions from an English textbook.

So, how did you spend your Saturday evening?



Categories: Anecdote, Blogging, Education, Friendship, Rich Paschall

Tags: , , , , ,

17 replies

  1. I would give up my Sat night to assist a cyber friend too Rich. Bravo. Hmmmm, I wonder if I could learn to speak Dutch on Livemocha? I have never heard of it.

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  2. Yesterday (Flag Day) was also my My Mom’s birthday. Wrote a blog about her but only had an artist sketch to include. My dear Cousin later sent a batch of old family pictures which Marilyn spent a long time cleaning up on the computer. So many memories.

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  3. We did what we always do. Watched movies and almost stayed awake. Ate fried chicken bought already cooked from the grocery store. Tried to figure out where I can put a countertop convection oven. Played with dogs. I edited some old photographs (very old photos, from the 1940s) and answered blog comments. That’s life pretty much every night.

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  4. How did I spend my Saturday evening? I don’t have to think very long as I’m still in the middle of that evening on the west coast. It’s just before midnight and I can hear condos full of people partying as I toy with my computer. One awakened by the noise of my neighbors I’m better getting up and doing some computer work than lying here seething over a younger generation’s need to party.

    I’m still coming down from the turmoil that was represented by my recent move. I’m now living with my best friend, Warren, who I wish to keep as a friend. I’m trying to become invisible, to change my habits to basically make no change to his routine. I’m trying to be helpful around the house, doing chores I know he hates to do. I want him coming home to his home and so no effect on my presence in his home.

    I’ve always retired for the night early, sometimes as early as 7 p.m. with no exceptions for weekends or holidays. I am an early riser, sometime getting up at 3-4 in the morning to do editing work, read favorite blogs and write emails to friends and relatives. I never have issues falling back asleep at any time I choose.

    So when asked how I spent this Saturday night I’d have to say by walking on eggshells and trying to be as quiet as I can.

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  5. Editing someone else’s writing because they can’t…
    And that too teaches a fair bit.
    Cyberspace really is a whole new world and though it has shifted many priorities, it has oepned so many doors for learning, understanding and real communication it is hard to overstate how the world has shifted in our lifetime.

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