I really like e-mail for the fact that it allows me to communicate with my peers any time of day.
    Irma Amaro-Davis
    Executive Director, Local Indians for Education

I think mentoring and building a community online can work, I think you just have to approach the online communications differently than how you interact with people in the physical world. Because you can't be face-to-face, one way to help get the conversation going is to write as you speak (if the conferencing is casual) and use punctuation to help get the message across, like using :) to mean a smiley face (tilt your head to the left and look at it) or ;) to show a smiley face that is winking at you. These cues all help - you can tell if someone is making a joke or being sarcastic or being serious. Also, after a while of communicating with someone online, their particular writing habits and speech patterns begin to show up - you start to get a "feel" for that person. It just takes a little longer than in-person interaction.

I think the example of the person who isn't physically mobile is a good one. Here is a person who may not be able to leave the house, but can type on a keyboard. That person can be on any number of mailing lists, belong to groups like what we have here. Over time, trust is built up and then a mentoring relationship can begin (if that is what you want), or maybe you just gain a good friend that you wouldn't have met otherwise.   Deborah

I agree about online mentoring also being a valuable tool. In some cases it shouldn't take the place of face- to-face contact but for those times when seeing someone is difficult, it could be vital. Sometimes we need all the help we can get.   Kathleen

I believe mentoring online can work. As Sue has mentioned, it is a one-on-one process. But the value of this site would be that the benefit can extend to others with the same problem or question. Some people are afraid to ask questions or get friendly advice. If I am cruising along and read something that is close to a situation I have and someone is giving advice, I will read it and it may help me, and vice versa. Every word is valuable.   Irma

I too believe that online mentoring can work, provided all parties have access to computers and the Internet. If not, makes it a mute point, eh? I think the essence of mentoring is the dynamic between two or more people, and if that takes place online, so be it. However, it is always more enriching to meet in person so that each individual gets to know the five senses of each person (taste, touch, sight, smell, and sound). It's like getting to know one's body language! However, there have been situations wherein due to geographics, it is not possible to meet in person all the time; as such, the internet does help.   Jeanette

My name is Brandy and I am here with the director of the Sierra Youth Center and I am 14 years old and today I met my mentor Gloria for the first time and I really like her. What I am looking for in a mentor is someone to be there for me through thick and thin and someone to teach me wrong and right and basically a friend. But if I had to have a mentor on line I would want her to be able to send me back a response to what I just wrote to her. I wouldn't want to wait for a day or two just to be able to talk to her. And I would want to have a certain day and time to talk to her so that we would both know when to write to each other.   Brandy

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