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I will be going to France for the spring semester with my high school French class. I’m beyond stoked! I’ll be staying with a French family in Reims, a town about 80 miles north of Paris. I have already met them, because we’ve Skyped a few times. They’re super cool, though I can’t understand everything they’re saying. I was telling my Gram, Virginia Martin, about them the other day when I visited her at GreenFields. When I mentioned Skype, she just about flipped.
“Skype! Have I told you about eWOW?” she asked.
This is when Gram scooched into her comfy leather couch and motioned for me to sit next to her. “eWOW, Miss Ava, is our way of seeing the world,” she explained. “It literally stands for ‘Exploring the World Our Way,’ and we sure are!”
Though Gram’s traveled all over the world throughout her life, I didn’t think she’d been on any trips recently. “I’m confused,” I said. Gram then explained to me that at 2:00 p.m. on the third Thursday of every month, GreenFields’ new eWOW program brings residents to awesome places around the world with Skype and Zoom. (Gram said it like she’s been into virtual technology all her life.)
Just last month, she said, residents “went to” the Great Barrier Reef Aquarium in Queensland, Australia, where they came face-to-face with a huge leopard shark – right there as it was happening! They’ve also interacted with elephants at an elephant sanctuary (Gram told me the elephants get pedicures!) and grizzly bears at Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in Alaska.
They’ve virtually visited the WWII museum in New Orleans, the Wyoming State Museum, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Sheffield Museum of Rural History in Canada. “We say what we want to see, and they show us!” Gram said. They also get a special meal on eWOW days that match with where they’ve been. “They served Arctic char when we went to Alaska and shrimp creole when we went to New Orleans,” Gram told me.
In January, when the program started, Gram and her friends remotely visited the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum. Residents got to help the actors who re-enact the tea party decide if they were going to throw the tea over or not. I wish we did that in my American history class!
“We’re not just watching videos; we’re really there,” said Gram. Like I told you, Gram is a jetsetter, but she doesn’t get around like she used to. She went everywhere with my grandfather before he passed away, and now she has tons of people at GreenFields to “go” with, too. It makes me super happy that she can still do cool things and have great experiences – without all the hassles of traveling. I admit, I’m a little scared of the long flight to France, but Gram assures me it will all be fine.
When I asked her where they were going next, Gram said she wasn’t sure, but they all get a little teaser about their upcoming excursion. After their visit to the Great Barrier Reef, everyone got patriotic mints and an American flag as hints to their next adventure. “I think that means we’re going back to the States – maybe Washington, D.C.,” she said with a wink.