My Unique Opportunity to Teach Etiquette to a Unique 14 Year Old New Zealander

Meet Corey Peterson of New Zealand.  He is 14 years old and lives in a place called Tauranga. Corey is certain that he was born in the wrong era.  I am certain Corey may be right about that!  This is Corey below, with his best friend Hannah.

Corey, in background, with best friend Hannah

Now I have never been to New Zealand.  The closest I ever got was in 1990, when I went to Tahiti, Moorea and Bora Bora to do some snorkeling.  Met some friendly residents, but did not keep in touch.

Meant to stay in touch. Honest, I did! Somehow lost your address.
But I digress... I met Corey on Twitter, of all places.  It's not so unusual to 'chat' with complete strangers on Twitter, but a 14 year old boy, living half a world away?  After all,  I tweet etiquette information, cultural information and the occasional news story.  I had tweeted many things about the popular British period drama, Downton Abbey, and he is @downtonabblings and obviously a big fan of the show.

He followed me, I followed back, and I am never really expecting much other than continual requests to read someone's Facebook page, or requests to "Like someone on Facebook" or repeated questions asking, "How would you like to have 5,000 guaranteed followers like me?"Anyone who reads my blog posts knows;
 1. I am not on Facebook.  
2. I will never again sign up for the site, so I cannot "Like" you on Facebook. and   
3. I do not want 5,000 followers just like you, asking me if I want 5,000 more, just like them! Capice?   

This one below was especially funny, and was tweeted over and over again one day;
@1paenarul: want to get 15000 twitter followers just 1 days?? visit here"
 But when I clicked on it, I was led to this:
Oh no! Now I won't get "15ooo followers in just 1 days"!

I have never understood why the amount of followers one has on twitter is so important.  It's not like followers have any monetary worth.  My dog has a twitter account.  Of course, I have to tweet for her, as her paws are so big.  In fact, I asked her last night, "Do you care how many followers you have on twitter?"  She just stared at me with that, "I only care how many dog treats are left in that treat jar" look.  But again, I digress...
"Venus transit of the Sun (through filter). Only happens every 130 years or so."
I happened to be sick in bed late one afternoon (nothing new there) in early June, and was tweeting etiquette and news stories.  My big brother had just emailed me a photo he had taken through his telescope of the "Venus transit of the Sun".  About the same time, a tweet came through from the New Zealand Herald reading, 

- Southland is top spot for viewing Transit of Venus this afternoon. Rare event... So I added the photo and clicked "retweet" on my phone.  

Moments later, up popped this; Corey ‏@downtonabblings
I live in New Zealand!!  

Thus our friendship was born. I tweeted back to him; Awesome! The twitpic I tweeted was one my brother took earlier. All of you in NZ will have a great view!  
He tweeted back; 
yes! But I was in school so unfortunately I missed the chance to see it!  

And the conversation continued;

  They didn't let you students take a break to get a quick look?  That is so wrong!

no they didn't!! I would have had enjoyed the chance!! Oh well, will wait till 2017!

Anything is a learning opportunity for students, even if it is just to encourage taking time to see a rare event. 

I don't want to bash teachers. I have respect for the job. Teaching etiquette, I teach much more than courtesies in classes.

Then, much to my surprise, up popped Hannah into the conversation... 
  bro it's not like we could have seen it, it's been cloudy and raining all day lol
@iamhannah_ That's odd. Why was a NZ news tweet, alerting people where they'd have best view? Is it coming from elsewhere?

So that is how this whole thing started.  I had already noticed Corey from a slightly goofy profile photo he had originally. It always made me smile.  He'd tweet things not really typical of a 14 year old boy, especially tweets about Downton Abbey. Corey has a major crush on Michelle Dockery, aka 'Lady Mary'.  But then he'd also tweet things very typical of a 14 year old boy.  One night I read a tweet;  @downtonabblings Just made some mac'n cheese. Yum!  I happened to be on twitter, so I tweeted to him @Etiquettologist Great comfort food!" We would 'converse' back and forth for a bit, but it never occurred to me he would be interested in etiquette.
Amy Poehler's take on critics of Downton Abbey's authenticity
One night he tweeted this however, and our unusual friendship changed course and it became a teaching oppportunity for me;  
Going to see the grandparents and the father for the weekend!! Thanks Nana and Grandad for coming to get me :D

I immediately retweeted and favorited the tweet responding; Well done you! How awesome it is, you showing appreciation to your grandparents! I try to teach my students this very thing.
Notes of thanks are a must in my book!

Corey said he was interested in taking etiquette classes and wanted to know if he was too young.  I said he wasn't too young, adding that I had not trained any instructors who are in New Zealand, nor had I heard of any.  I offered to teach him via email, and at some point on Skype though.  He happily accepted.  I gave him my email address and told him to ask his mother to Google me first.  I didn't want an angry parent out there thinking I was trying to... well, I don't know what.  All I know is that I was repeatedly warning my kids not to become too friendly with total strangers on the internet when they were growing up.  As it is, my 25 year old daughter thinks this whole this friendship is very "weird" and tried to convince me that Corey is probably "some 60 year old pervert", but I know otherwise.

He is active in various charity projects. He volunteers at "Village Radio" station, which plays nostalgic music from the 1920s to the 1980s.  He is always up to something interesting it seems, when not in school or doing school work. Corey is so unique a young man, I have asked if he would like to guest blog for me about learning etiquette.  He was happy I had asked, and will be blogging about teens, etiquette and other subjects in the future.  Read my interview with him in my next post, on how he became such a big Downton Abbey fan. 


  1. This is wonderful! I will share with my almost-not-a-teen-anymore when he gets back from the mall tonight. I look forward to more posts, especially from Corey @downtonabblings. Will Hannah be blogging too? Is she learning etiquette also? I'll call you tomorrow-

  2. Thank you Maura! Hannah isn't learning etiquette but once I learn, I may teach my group of friends! :)

  3. This is so nice! He is very unique for such a young man. More should be like him. Willing to learn and volunteering.

  4. What a generous thing to do! I hope this young man excels in his lessons. Keep us posted.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts