EllaCan a transatlantic, multigenerational Facebook friendship really mean something? Can it be inspiring?

“Oma Ella is not scared of anything,” says Eugenie White, age 53, of Dover, Delaware. 

“I am a two-time cancer fighter. I am still fighting. I have bad days and good days. On my bad days when I go on Facebook and see Oma Ella and how funny she is it brings a big smile to my face and I say to myself, ‘If she can do it, then so can I.’” Eugenie has only been Facebook friends with Ella for four months, but even in that short amount of time the German centenarian has made a lasting impact.

“Oma Ella is 103 and lives each day to the fullest,” says Melanie Akerley, a 41 year old from Nova Scotia, Canada. Melanie sent Ella a friend request after reading about her online. “She is always so friendly and kind,” Melanie adds. “She’s sent me several postcards and even made me a special photo card on facebook for my birthday. She sent me a postcard from Cologne, Germany with a small bottle of cologne in it!” Those who have been lucky enough to meet Ella offline gush that her energetic online personality is even more kinetic face-to-face.

EllaKamal Bilalov, a twenty-something from Azerbaijan, first met Ella in person at the 2012 Eurovision singing contest when it was held in that country’s capital, Baku. “After we met at Eurovision she sent me a friend request on Facebook,” says Kamal. “We became best friends. I love her like my real granny! In my country’s culture we have a special love for old people. Our grandparents live together with us when they are getting old. My grandmother died last year. Oma Ella is really special to me. I want to be like her when I’m old. She makes people want to live. She is still powerful, crazy and cool!”

Why is Ella inspiring to me? Simply, I’m a traveler, a lover of adventure, and the type of person who is invigorated by meeting new people and by telling their stories. Ella is the quintessential wanderluster. I learned the art of travel from my mom. I wish that my dad, who died five years ago, could have ventured to the places that I have. So, Ella inspires me because I aspire to be like her. I hope to tell her story in a way that allows others to travel vicariously through her and through me.

Ella Kastner