Family means everything to Tristan Sacrey. The 17-year-old has never lived more than 10-minutes away from his maternal grandparents and has never spent more than a week away from them at a time.
Last week, he made the nine-hour drive from his home outside of Toronto to start his first semester at Sault College in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. While he is excited to study digital film production and meet new friends, he was anxious about living far away from his family.
In anticipation of Tristan going away to college, he taught his grandparents how to use Skype.
“They didn’t understand what Skype was, and they’d never really heard of it,” Tristan says. “My grandparents aren’t exactly tech savvy.” Up until a few weeks ago, Tristan’s grandparent had an almost decade-old desktop that they used for basic computing and would often call Tristan or his mom on the phone to ask where certain functions were on the keyboard.
Prior to leaving for school, Tristan helped his grandparents (who are both in their seventies) to pick out a new laptop with the expressed goal of being able to keep in better touch. He set them up with a Skype account and then they tested Skype chats and video calls back and forth across the room in his grandparents’ home. The whole process just took a matter of minutes.
“My grandma was blown away that it was so simple. It was harder to pick out a new laptop than it was to learn to use Skype.” he says, “She couldn’t believe all she had to do was answer the call and she could actually see my face.”
Now at Sault College, Tristan is busy moving into the apartment he shares with two other students. He smiles, “It’s great to make new friends, but I also plan to keep in touch via Skype with not only my grandparents, but my girlfriend, cousins and parents back home too.”
On Sunday, August 17th, Tristan made his first Skype video call from school to his grandparents. “They loved it,” he says, “I was able to show them around my bedroom and my new apartment. I had been unpacking and organizing all day and it was comforting for them to see where I live.”
“They probably won’t ever be able to visit me here in person, but I’d still love to see my grandparents close to every day,” he says. “I’m definitely planning to keep my streak of never spending more than a week without them at a time.”