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On-line video sharing connects international workers with home


Joel Kroeker and Heather Peters share an “Isaac Toast” sandwich made with cabbage, pickles, processed cheese, meat and a fried egg with honey-herb sauce.

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March 28, 2008
-Deborah Froese

WINNIPEG, Manitoba — A catchy chord progression on an electric guitar is what you hear first, then the words “We heart [love] Isaac Toast,” flash blue against a black screen.  Cut to a bearded young man in a heavy jacket and toque.  “We’re on our way to Isaac Toast, which is our first ever regular dining spot,” says Joel Kroeker as he packs up his laptop computer. 

And so begins an engaging video tour of Seoul with Kroeker and his wife Heather Peters as they head to a local Korean restaurant for a Saturday morning treat.  They are communicating with friends and family in Canada through YouTube, a popular (and free) video sharing website..

Communicating electronically is not new for young adult Mennonite Church Canada Witness workers. Email, blogs, and popular social networking sites like Facebook have been used for some time. Kroeker and Peters, who teach at Connexus, a language institute associated with the Korea Anabaptist Center (KAC), say they do also use regular communication devices such as telephone and “snail-mail” – which are relatively inexpensive in Korea.

Will and Ana Loewen have posted a video online, too.  “I could develop and mail home a bunch of photographs, include a CD with Korean music and send a little story, but at a relatively high cost and at a limited value,” Will writes in an email exchange.   “A slideshow takes very little effort to produce with software that is readily available and fairly user friendly, and with the power of the web tools like YouTube, the small effort to upload the video pays dividends by making it a mouse-click away from anyone who wants to watch it.” 

The Loewens also upload photos to their website to complement blog posts – on-line journal entries that others can connect to and view for a vicarious experience.  

For Cheryl Woelk, a key staff member at KAC, blogging has provided a way to reflect on her experiences and articulate her thoughts.   “It helps me to appreciate aspects of my daily life here that I might just take for granted otherwise. I think this blog is more for me in that way than for anyone else.”  She admits her “English” blog isn’t as active as her Korean language blog where she and her Korean friends frequently pictures and messages.  “Although it's more work than my English one, I'm more motivated to write when I know someone will respond.”

Connexus workers Mark and Vanessa Claassen Wiehler find blogging allows them to keep in touch with a wider audience, but they prefer emails for friends and family.  “Emails are a little more personal,” Mark notes. 

Leah Buermeyer agrees.  On a short-term internship assignment in Borabu, Thailand, she posts a blog with photos and activity updates, but she uses email to keep in touch with close family and friends.  She also speaks to her family on Skype, free software that allows phone call like conversation over the internet.  “Technology sure has made communicating easy and convenient!”

Sidebar:  Connection points

Learn more about these Mennonite Church Canada workers by connecting with them on the internet:

Joel Kroeker and Heather Peters

William and Ana Loewen

Cheryl Woelk

Mark and Vanessa Claassen Wiehler

Leah Buermeyer