Two Colchesters: Facebook mistake leads to international friends

Paulette Malaney of Colchester, Vermont turned to Facebook to find some local solidarity but instead made some friends in England.
Published: Jun. 24, 2022 at 8:18 AM EDT|Updated: Jun. 24, 2022 at 9:34 AM EDT
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COLCHESTER, Vt. (WCAX) - A classic mix-up left one woman on the other side of the Atlantic -- virtually that is.

Colchester’s Paulette Malaney was seeking solidarity with other Colchester residents about the spongy moth outbreak, but ended up in Colchester, Great Britain. “I, like many other people in Colchester, have been plagued by the caterpillars, the black plague as I call it,” said Malaney.

The page Malaney found and joined is the Colchester Community Facebook page. She was welcomed in, but after a little looking around the Facebook group, something felt off.

“I suddenly realized as I was reading the comments that there were no comments about the caterpillars but there were names of places that I knew weren’t local,” said Malaney.

She had inadvertently wandered virtually across the pond to Colchester, England. When she realized her mistake, she tried to make amends. “I then posted on that page, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry. I joined your page by mistake. I live in Colchester VT USA,’” said Malaney.

Before she could leave the page, however, Malaney was flooded with kind messages encouraging her to stay. “The people in Colchester. England. were very kind. They said, ‘Oh, stay, follow us, we are a nice bunch of people,’” said Malaney.

She was surprised by the positive response and she stayed, offering information about Vermont and New England, even sending some photos of the fall foliage. “The response was again overwhelming of people saying, ‘Oh, I want to put that on my bucket list to travel there,’” said Malaney

She says she would love to consider becoming sister cities with Colchester and plans to stay connected with both towns. “It doesn’t matter if you are in England or America or Europe, people are still the same. People want to connect, that’s what I like about it anyway,” said Malaney.

She says maybe someday she can see the United Kingdom’s first city and meet her new friends over a cup of tea.

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