Modem Mavens and Wiggle Worms

Elaine Pitler

Modem Mavens has taken us out of the humdrum of every day retired life and into the hearts of ESL first graders at the Garfield Magnet School. It was the start of Operation E-Mail for Kids, an inter-generational, inter-cultural project that gave us a glimpse of their world while they got a look at ours. Together, we refined our computer skills, and they developed language and a love for words.

On the first day, these children arrived at Carol Trefrey's class speaking little or no English. At the end of the school year, they moved into an English speaking world equipped to learn more - and we helped!! The following are excerpts from a letter sent to us by their teacher, Mrs. Trefrey:

"Our first grade ESL class had a wonderful time getting to learn about our pen pals at the Jack Satter House. We learned about the birds that built their nests on the balcony; we learned about how the ocean looked on different days; we learned about the rain and wrote a poem about a rainy day; our teacher forgot but Grandma didn't - that's what Grandmas do. The Grandmas call their group "Modem Mavens". We call ours "Wiggle Worms."

In May, the Grandmas and some of their friends came to our classroom for a party. They remembered the kind of cookies we like - that's what Grandmas do. The Grandpas took pictures and said, "Smile" - that's what Grandpas do. Some of us ate bagels and lox and pastries. We made wiggle worm sandwiches made of graham crackers and wiggle worms. (note: wiggle worms are gummies in the shape of worms.) Everybody played with us and said that we were the best children they ever met. We are going to be the very best children because we want to make them proud of us."

By the way, the Modem Mavens based in the Jack Satter House have expanded their horizons and are now on the Internet under "Satter-lights." Never again will these children see Americans as strange; never again will these Modem Maven Satter-lights think of them as "different". Together, we bridged the gap of misunderstanding.

Little hand in mine, help me to see
The love that comes from the heart.
For I am like you and you are like me.
From such a place let understanding start.

A special thanks to Mr. Scott Lumsden, principal of the Garfield Magnet School for his assistance in initiating this program.

[reprinted from the Satter-lights]