Expat Magazine

Your Stories: How Skype Has Brought Our International Family Together

By Internationalcouples @icouples

Sometimes we forget how difficult life could be for expats and international couples if tools like Skype were not around. This is a guest post written by Houri. Enjoy!

It's hard to believe that 20 years ago, when I moved to the US, it was almost $2.00 a minute to call my home country of Iran. I moved here in 1991 with my mom and younger brother, leaving my two oldest brothers in Iran. Although torn by the distance, we tried through every means possible to stay in touch. Quick phone calls, letters, printed pictures- these were the only options available during this time and unfortunately they weren't enough. We started to grow apart and as my brother and I grew older, we became less proficient in Farsi so communication, both written and oral became slightly more challenging. Not only could we no longer lie under the mosquito tent next to one another at night and gaze at the stars or skip rocks down the river, or just throw snow balls back and forth but the language barrier cut down on our talk time as well.


Flash-forward 20 years and I see my three year old son, Santi, who just last night tried to tickle his grandmother over Skype. It gives me such great joy to know that although Santi and his grandparents are thousands of miles apart, they can be a part of each other's lives. They join us at our dinner table, they teach my son the alphabet using flash cards, and they enjoy watching him give a tour of his Toy Story bedroom. Skype has truly brought our international family together and removed all barriers, economic, geographic, and language.


I say economic barriers because by using Skype to Skype, a calling feature offered by Skype, you can call from your computer to anyone else in the world for free as long as they also have Skype installed on their computer or mobile device. So now Santi can call his uncle in Iran, his cousins in Canada, and his grandparents in Peru for as long as he wants without having to pay a dime.


With Skype, we allow family to come into our home at any time. The kids can now laugh and sing with one another as if they were in the same room, and the adults can talk about their favorite teams or politics and share memorable moments as if they were in the same house. An additional benefit is that when you do have an opportunity to travel and be physically with your loved ones, you don't have to spend endless hours in a hotel room trying to catch up on all the significant moments that you've missed. You can simply continue the last conversation you held over Skype. Our families spend so many hours together on Skype that we don't just tell one another about our memories but rather create new ones that we will cherish forever. I will never forget how Santi's abuelo dressed up as Santa Claus for Christmas and gave him the best present he could ever ask for. Yes, they may not have been with us physically during the holidays but we definitely felt their presence in our home and in our hearts.


One other thing that we took foregranted for a long time was the depth of interaction we have with my sister-in-law and her husband. They are both deaf, yet their communication with us is no different than if we were seated right next to them in Lima. I must admit, my sister-in-law has great taste so of course my husband (Augusto) had to ask her opinion when he was picking out a new pair of glasses. It was so natural for her just to watch him try on the six different trial pairs of glasses that Augusto had and help him narrow down the choices. She would have never been able to do that over the phone!


So even though my brothers and I were not able to connect and communicate freely 20 years ago, I know that our kids will grow up side-by-side, sharing and building memories with tools such as Skype, Facebook, and email. I no longer feel distanced from my family, nor am I concerned about the language barrier. Life is good!

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