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The Braille Monitor,  June 2001 EditionThis is a line.

International Computer Pen Pals Needed

by Marc Maurer

      The Sylvan Learning Center, Inc., is a corporation that explores new approaches to education and does it very successfully.  One division is called Wall Street Institute.  One of the purposes of Wall Street Institute is to encourage international cooperation and communication.  Many international programs are reluctant to include blind people on an equal basis with others; however, Wall Street Institute welcomes participation by the blind. What does Wall Street Institute(WSI) get out of it?  It gets a group of people who are willing to communicate with others around the world and who know English very well.  WSI is teaching people in other countries to speak English, which it calls the global language.

     Here is an announcement about this new initiative of Wall Street Institute along with a survey which is used to identify the interests of potential participants.

Let’s talk about cultures and foreign friends

      Imagine a few of the following scenarios with people from different countries (Spain, for example): as a graphics designer, engineering student or professional, you could interact with your counterparts in Madrid and exchange views and concepts on design; art lovers discussing Picasso and Gaudi with a native of Barcelona; music and movie fans exchanging their views with the ones who actually went to the latest festival in San Sebastian; a doctor-to-be getting tips from a cardiologist at the Hospital in Sevilla; an avid soccer and wind-surfing fan talking about the latest game or the highest wave with someone in ...you get the idea!

       We are seeking to provide you with an international exchange forum via the Internet with members of our organization, in order to promote increased international/cross-cultural awareness, and friendship.

Why we want to talk to you

      We are looking for curious and open-minded adults with an interest in broadening their horizons and understanding of other cultures, a commitment to international friendship, and a desire to develop relationships with foreigners with similar personal and/or professional pursuits. You seem to fit that profile.

      Let’s make it happen. It will be fun and valuable for you. Let’s provide you with a window across the ocean. You and the foreigner overseas will enrich each other’s lives by learning about each other’s world in a casual and spontaneous e-mail communication in English. We want to provide you with that link. We want to help you become e-friends!

      The e-friends can find each other in a virtual community, searching by their interests and profiles (photos available if wanted), interacting via e-mail and eventually hearing each other’s voices: after all you will be e-friends. The proficiency level of the person you would be interacting with will be mostly intermediate and advanced.

     This experience can be beneficial for you: Developing friendships around the world; having future opportunities to visit your e-friends in their countries or receiving them in your home; learning about other cultures and ways of life; exchanging views on your professional subjects or interests; participating in different types of raffles (trips, scholarships, certificates, software, gadgets, etc).

     Your organization may also benefit from the alliances with us:

     Linking to 125,000 students around the world

     Complementing and enhancing its international scope

     Possible marketing opportunities

     Alliances with the fastest growing international educational company in the world, with English instruction and educational product distribution and more.

     We are Wall Street Institute (WSI), a division of Sylvan Learning Systems, Inc.

     WSI teaches thousands of working adults English, the global language of business and communications.

     WSI serves more than 125,000 students through more than 380 centers in 22 countries in Europe, Latin America and Asia.

     The typical WSI member: a working adult age 18-45, learning English to further his or her professional life and expand career opportunities.

     English is quickly becoming the global language of international business and communications. Wall Street Institute (WSI) is addressing this growing demand by offering adult students in their home countries practical, results-oriented English-language instruction in a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere. WSI offers students various programs of study, with computer-based instruction, in-class instruction, and peer interaction to further their learning experience.


     To discuss further about your participation in this e-friend network, please contact:

     Wall Street Institute, 1001 Fleet Street, Baltimore MD 21202

                Attn. Luchy Jones

                800-627-4276, xt. 6573;

          Email: [email protected]




My age range is:

                        _ 18-25 years old                  _ 26-35 years old

                        _ 36-45 years old                  _ 46+ years old


My gender is:

                        _ Female                    _ Male


About my occupation

                        _ I am a full-time student                   _ I work full time

                        _ I work part time       _ I study and work     _ I am retired _ I stay at home_ Other ______________________________________________________


I live in this state:

 _ Alabama                   _ Hawaii                        _ Michigan

_ Alaska                       _ Idaho                         _ Minnesota

_ Arizona                     _ Illinois                        _ Mississippi

_ Arkansas                   _ Indiana                       _ Missouri

_ California                       _ Iowa                           _ Montana

_ Colorado                   _ Kansas                       _ Nebraska

_ Connecticut               _ Kentucky                    _ Nevada

_ Delaware                   _ Louisiana                     _New Hampshire

_ District 0f Columbia   _ Maine                          _ New Jersey

_ Florida                     _ Maryland                      _ New Mexico

_ Georgia                    _ Massachusetts              _ New York

_ North Carolina                                                 _ Tennessee 

_ North Dakota                                                   _ Texas

_ Ohio                                                                _ Utah

_ Oklahoma                                                        _ Vermont

_ Oregon                                                            _ Virginia

_ Pennsylvania                                                    _ Washington

_ Puerto Rico                                                     _ West Virginia

_ Rhode Island                                                   _ Wisconsin

_ South Carolina                                                 _ Wyoming

_ South Dakota                       


I currently have the following opportunities to interact with people from other countries and cultures  (Mark all that apply):

            _ None            _ Friends        _ Pen-pals     _ Internet

            _ At work        _ Traveling     _ Hosting visitors from abroad

            _ Other________________________________________________

I would like to have the following opportunities in order to gain more exposure to the world (Mark all that apply and explain below):

            _ I do not need or want more exposure and interaction   

            _ Receiving at home visitors for a short period of time

                        _ Having a network of people around the world to interact with via email and/or voice

                        _ Being able to visit people in other countries

                        _ Other ______________________________________________

                        ­Explanation: ______________________________________________________

­­                        ______________________________________________________

Interacting with People from Spain (and Potentially around the World):

     Our organization strives to help people succeed in life around the world by creating opportunities for learning and for enhancing their views of the world. We are interested in making available for you a network of foreigners with whom you can interact via e-mail, to increase international and cross-cultural awareness and friendship. It is an opportunity for you to have a window to the rest of the world. You would do so by communicating in English with a variety of adult people in Spain (and potentially in other countries). These foreigners are people over 18 years old, who are working professionals or students, with a variety of interests and pursuits, and who have studied or who are studying English to further their professional and personal life and expand their career opportunities. Mostly their English proficiency is rated intermediate to advanced. In the future you may perhaps expand your communication with these foreigners using real time chats, forums, voice, etc.

Would I be interested in having a personalized interaction in English via email with people from Spain as described above?

            _ YES                         _ NO

8. Do I perceive any value in having such correspondence?

            _ YES                         _ NO

9. What value and benefits would I gain in having such interaction? (Mark all that apply)

               _ Develop a friendship throughout email correspondence

               _ Interact with someone from a different culture

               _ Future opportunity to travel to Spain to meet the foreigner

               _ Future opportunity to host the foreigner in my house

               _ Help me broaden my horizons

              _ Help me somehow with my integration to society on a basis of equality

              _ Help raise the awareness and spread the new concepts of blindness among sighted people

              _ Help motivated foreign people use their English skills

                        _ Other: ____________________________________________




10. What would I like to write and communicate about? (Mark all that apply)

                        _ Getting to know the other person

                        _ About the culture and life in Spain

                        _ Common interests

                        _ Professional subjects

                        _ Current events

                        _ Other: _______________________________________________________


11. Specific subjects that I would like to communicate about: (Mark all that apply)

                  _ Environmental issues  _ The arts: Music, film, art, theater

                        _ Sports                                             _ Computers and information technology

                        _ Languages                                        _ Other cultures

                        _ Food                                                _ Current political and world events

                        _ Entertainment events                          _ History

                        _ Philosophy                                        _ Animals

                        _ Community Service and charities        _ Travel and tourism

                        _ Advocacy issues (poverty, human rights, etc.)               _ Blindness

                        _ Other:_____________________________________________


12. The type of person I would like to interact with  (Mark all that apply)

                        _ Similar age

                        _ Older

                        _ Younger

                        _ Same Gender

                        _ Opposite Gender

                        _ Person with common interests

                        _ Person with new and different interests from mine

              _ Person from different backgrounds (ethnic, religious, political)

                        _ College and university students

                        _ Working professionals

              _ It is indifferent to me (any of the above would be fine)

                        _ Other: ___________________________________________________

13. Would I like to have a personalized interaction in English with people from countries where English is NOT the official language, besides Spain?

            _ YES                         _ NO

14. Do I think that this personalized email interaction would give me a chance to communicate better with diverse people than in a  "chat" session in the Internet?

            _ YES                         _ NO

15. How much time would I be willing or able to spend in that email correspondence with the foreigner? Note: it assumes that an “interaction”is a 2-way communication: 1 email message sent and 1 received.

                        _ Less than 15 minutes per interaction

                        _ 15-30 minutes per interaction

                        _ 30-60 minutes per interaction

                        _ Other _____________


16. How often would I like to interact with the foreigner?

                        _ Once a week

                        _ Twice a month

                        _ Other _____________

17. I would be willing and able to communicate regularly (as per the frequency disclosed in the previous question) with the following number of people:

                        _ 1 person abroad                _ 21-30 people abroad

                        _ 2-3 people abroad             _ 31-40 people abroad

                        _ 4-6 people abroad             _ 41-50 people abroad

                        _ 7-10 people abroad            _ 51 + people abroad

                        _ 11-20 people abroad          _ Other ______________


18. Would I be willing to keep a simple log of the number of interactions I have? (Note: it assumes that an “interaction” is a 2-way communication: 1 email message sent and 1 received.)

                        _ YES                         _ NO

19. Would I like to mention this opportunity to other Americans for them to participate in this network as well?

            _ YES                         _ NO


20. Do I have access to Internet at home or other place besides NFB centers?

            _ YES                         _ NO

21. In order to interact with the foreigner I would use: (Mark all that apply)

            _ Computer and Internet at the NFB center

            _ Computer and Internet at home

            _ Computer and Internet at work

                        _ Other ______________________________________________________


22. Would I interact with the foreigner?

            _ Without compensation, just for having the opportunity of the interaction itself

            _ For a nominal fee

            _ For an incentive or reward

            _ Other_______________________________________________

23. Would the number of interactions increase if I get some type of compensation, besides the communication opportunity itself?

            _ YES                         _ NO

Note: it assumes that an “interaction” is a 2-way communication: 1 email message sent and 1 received.

24. Examples of potential incentives that would keep me engaged in the ongoing communication with the foreigner would be: (Mark all that apply)

                        _ The development, progress and fruition of the intercultural awareness and possible friendship with the foreigner

                        _ Raffle opportunities of gift certificates

                        _ Raffle opportunities of trips to Spain (and other countries) to visit the people I have been interacting with

                        _ Raffle opportunities to get hardware and software

                        _ Raffle opportunities of scholarships

                        _ Some form of assistance to the NFB for education and technology research

                        _ Other ______________________________________________


Comments: (Please elaborate on any question or provide any general comments about this potential/future initiative.)


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