Here is a story about a wonderful use of technology to bring people together from across the world. A pilot project started by a CNA language school in Brazil linked their students with older Americans living in a retirement home outside Chicago:
“It’s such a great, simple idea: Young Brazilians want to learn English. Elderly Americans living in retirement homes just want someone to talk to. Why not connect them?”
The students conducted live chats with the residents of the retirement home in order to practice conversational English. The chats were recorded, and the videos then uploaded to a private YouTube account for the CNA teachers to review. The students get the opportunity to practice their English, and the retirement home residents essentially receive a beneficial (even therapeutic?) intervention – all with little-to-no-cost for all involved. That’s what I call upside!
Census data tells us that in 2010, the United States recorded the greatest number and proportion of people age 65 or older “in all of decennial census history.” By 2050, a full 20% of the U.S. population will be comprised of people 65 or older. Considering some of the risk factors for the elderly, including suicide, abuse & neglect, and loneliness, the possibility of linking older people with younger people seems to have great potential. The cost is so low, and the reward is potentially so high. Score one for modern technology, and the Internet that connects us all.