Bridging the generation gap with a selfie and some smiles

Mathieu Bergeron and Betty Custer work together to get the selfie smile just right.
Mathieu Bergeron and Betty Custer work together to get the selfie smile just right.

Though there was a noticeable lack of duck lips, and no one ended up posting their hottest picture on Instagram, selfies were the main scene last week at Wake Robin in Shelburne. Thanks to Carly Stine and the Champlain Valley Union High School students who volunteer with her through the nonprofit Technology for Tomorrow, sixteen seniors learned how to snap their own pictures and share them with friends and family using a smartphone or tablet.

Technology for Tomorrow students will run workshops through the end of May at different locations in the area, and their lessons are open to the public. Josh Klein, the student chapter leader of the group, said he enjoys participating because “every group of seniors we’ve worked with have been nothing but enthusiastic about us stopping by.” He and his fellow teachers showed the Wake Robin residents not only how to take pictures, but how to edit, save, and share them.

Ellen Reid and a Technology for Tomorrow volunteer pose for a selfie.
Ellen Reid and a Technology for Tomorrow volunteer pose for a selfie.

Judy Siccama, who participated in the workshop, said of the selfie, “I thought I would have no use for them, but as I share with my friends, sometimes it’s easier to take a selfie than another type of picture.” She said she likes to share photos with friends in Connecticut, and that attending the workshop has helped her hone her technique and learn how to turn the camera on herself, as well as improving the other shots she likes to take. “I also take pics of my beautiful cat in her ten-foot tree peeking out from the tall house window,” she said.

Ellen Reid confessed that she initially didn’t go to the workshop to learn how to take a selfie. She went, she said, “because the young people are so wonderful.” Reid has participated in Technology for Tomorrow workshops before, and loves not only the practical lessons she learns but the friendship and fun the students offer. “It’s incredible that they give up a Sunday afternoon,” she said. “They’re so generous with their help and their time.”

She also appreciates the follow up that Stine provides, including answering questions after the fact and sending emails that detail the lessons the seniors learned during the workshop. Reid said it’s sometimes hard for older people to remember the particulars of what they learned, and that a written reminder often comes in handy.

Reid’s children and grandchildren live far away, for the most part, and not only do the Technology for Tomorrow students help her keep in touch with her family, they provide a connection to young people that is often missing in seniors’ lives. “They’re fun to be with, and they don’t make us feel at all stupid,” she said. “This is so special…to be connected to young people is a great gift.”

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