Technology has helped my immediate family keep in touch with the others back in Brazil after we moved to the US. Most of our cousins, all parents and my husband’s siblings live in Brazil. I have cousins living in Australia, England, Dubai, South Africa, Singapore and New Zealand. As a child, I remember sending letters to a cousin once in a while in a conversation that would take at least four months to happen. Nowadays, you can instant message someone without the big expenses of a phone call.
Another positive point for my children, besides keeping in touch with their larger family, is that it gets them to practice Portuguese because almost nobody from our family in Brazil speaks English. Using Skype with a camera helps us seem them and allows us them to follow my children’s growth. Sometimes we use the instant messaging feature from Skype and it has my kids typing in Portuguese, which is different than speaking, because spelling words right does not come automatically with learning to speak a language. In the beginning, some of our relatives would be picky fixing my children’s spelling. But after I explained that it would get them avoiding chats with them, they decided to let the conversation roll without fixing their spelling errors, even if their intention with that was to help them learn the Portuguese better.
I am thankful for Skype, which has certainly reduced the distance between us and our family. This past week, I had a lovely experience with my mother and a friend of ours, who is like a godfather to me, since my real one passed away when I was a little kid. When I go to Brazil, the three of us get together in a beach house and we talk for a long time, catching up on our stories after living apart for a long time. At some point, this friend will pick up his guitar and start playing, to which my mom and I accompany him by singing spontaneously. Yesterday, my mom contacted me through Skype, as she usually does every morning, so we can ask each other about any news, especially in health. This time, our common friend was visiting her and she included him in our Skype conversation. I could see both through the camera and they could see me. So we sat and talked, and talked, and laughed, and talked some more. It lasted for 45 minutes! And it really felt like one of those days when we sit at the beach house and chat. It was lovely! I miss them so much, and this chance to talk openly to them helped ease it a bit. Today my mom mentioned to me the two of them were delighted with our long and live conversation, to which I agreed. Now, we want more! And maybe next time he will include his guitar.