Post Classifieds

Todd lecture brings new perspective

By Anthony Nerio
On October 20, 2011

Being separated from family can be one of the most difficult things students deal with in college, but home doesn't have to be so far away with today's technology.

Using Skype, email and social networking sites, parents and students keep in touch.

"Last year, even with restricted communication to my son, I was still able to check up on how he was doing," explained Christine Hemminger, 39, from Middletown, Del., the mother of a sophomore cadet.

Hemminger understood that by checking the box on the university's admission form, her son was giving up rights to use his cell phone. Rooks give up their cell-phone privileges until recognition. What she didn't know was that her son could get in touch with her at any time of the day or night with Skype, a computer-based telephone program, she said.

"In between classes he could walk to the library with his laptop and place a call to our home phone," Hemminger said.

She was surprised that "within the first two weeks of my son leaving, I was able to hear about his day and what he expected to do later that evening and even later that week," Hemminger said. It almost seems as if he never left the house, as if he was just spending the night at a friend's home, she explained.

Keeping in touch helped her deal with the seperation.

"It was tough to see him leave for school in August. He's my oldest son, it's always hard to watch a child grow up and leave the house," Hemminger said.

"Since I was able to speak to him on a regular basis, it put my mind at ease. I was proud of his decision to tackle such a difficult spin on college life," Hemminger said.

"Hearing what he had done every week helped me to understand why he chose to be a member of the corps of cadets. It wasn't the easy way by any extent, but he felt that it was the only way," Hemminger explained.

"This technology is far beyond anything that I could have imagined using when I was in college," she said.

Matt Elbus, 19, a sophomore civil engineering major from Kewanee, Ill., agrees that the medium for communication is changing vastly. "I've never written a letter to my family while I've been here, I usually just use Skype," Elbus said.

"As a rook last year it was difficult to talk to my parents, I only had the chance to call them once a week (for 10 minutes)," Elbus said. He stayed in touch with his family mainly through a string of emails that he would send out every few days, Elbus explained.

Elbus is "1,200 miles away from home" but said, "I was never really homesick during rookdom." He attributes that to the constant flow of emails and packages he received in addition to how busy he kept himself throughout the year.

"I know a lot of my rook brothers felt homesick at one point or another, but I just never felt the same," Elbus said.

Now an upperclassman in the corps of cadets, Elbus explains that communication with the world outside of Norwich "is much easier."

"I talk to my family at least two to three times a week, I try to keep a healthy balance between (my family) and my studies," Elbus said.

In addition to talking to his parents on Skype, Elbus uses the messaging function on Facebook. Many of his family members are his friends on Facebook.

Elbus mentioned that when his friends post things that include him that his parents might find inappropriate, "I would just explain the post to them because they would understand, they were college students once, too."

Clarke Haywood, 22, a senior history and secondary education major from East Boxford, Mass., has a different approach when it comes to the things friends say on Facebook. "My mom snoops around my Facebook and if she finds something, anything bad, she tells my father and they both get on my case about it," Haywood explains.

"It's awkward, but it helps them be accountable for me," Haywood said. He's often embarrassed about these antics, but he understands that they are both trying to look out for his best interests.

"My Facebook is pretty clean, it helps to have parents to always look out for me and remind me that future employers may be watching," Haywood said.

"The only time my dad has posted on my wall (on Facebook) was actually when he was calling out a friend for being inappropriate," Haywood said. Surprised by the reaction of Haywoods' father, the culprit never posted an inappropriate comment again, explained Haywood.

Besides Facebook, Haywood primarily speaks to his parents over Skype a couple of times a week. He explains that his cell phone is almost useless on campus because, "it's a Verizon phone so I have to lean out of my window for any type of reception."

Even though he is relatively close to home in comparison to Elbus, Haywood finds himself calling the house as often as he has the chance. "I mainly call the house for my mom's benefit but sometimes I need to do it for myself," Haywood said.

Haywood explains, "when I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place, my parents are pretty helpful" in his decision-making process.

Anna Padilla, 19, a sophomore criminal justice major from Vernon, N.J., talks to her mom at least once a day. Her communication medium of choice is Facebook, a site that Padilla introduced to her mom herself.

"I forced my mom to make one (a Facebook) and as soon as she did I added her to my page," Padilla said. She realizes that may be unusual, considering parents are usually the ones who friend their children.

Padilla is also friends with many other relatives. For those in her family who don't have Facebook, she messages through email.

Students with Verizon cell phones deal with spotty reception. This is the biggest reason that Skype has gained so much popularity among the student body, Padilla explained.

Another student, Robert Guiry, 19, an international studies sophomore from Mason, N.H., uses Skype as a way to avoid having to be his father's friend on Facebook.

"My dad has a Facebook but he's just way too creepy for me to add. I don't think he even knows how to find me," Guiry said. He explains that his father wouldn't necessarily be upset about what is posted on his Facebook, but would rather understand considering that he is an alumnus from Norwich himself.

"My dad is 65 years old, the idea of him on the internet using Facebook reminds me too much of a predator or something," Guiry joked.

Since Guiry only sees his family face-to-face once a month, he predominately talks to his parents over Skype.

Guiry is careful not to be logged onto Skype at all times, however, to avoid the distraction of talking to his dad. "He has a habit of calling me at the most inconvenient times to show me something stupid that he bought on eBay," Guiry explained.

Students benefit from keeping in touch with their family. "You can cure being homesick by just remembering to have some sort of conversation with your family on a weekly basis. It isn't necessary to talk to your parents at any time of the day or night to solve your problems because you're an adult now. Just picking up the phone and talking for a minute or two will set both your family's and your own mind at ease," Hemminger concludes..


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