Transforming lives through digital literacy.

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I’ve been a Community Technology Network volunteer for six months, tutoring at Aquatic Park Senior Center. I came to San Francisco from Korea for an internship and to improve my English. When I started tutoring, I questioned how I could tutor someone because of my limited English skills. But people at the senior center are very nice, and I knew about technology. I still wondered if it was enough just to have computer skill to be a good tutor. But even though I’m not a trained teacher, the seniors I tutor are so thankful for my tutoring. It changes their life.

Donald, one of the kindest men, is my best friend at the center. I met him my first week, and he was the first person I tutored without my supervisor. He’s so kind and warm that he reminds me of my grandfather. Our age gap is over 40 years, but we have a fun time playing with his many devices. He loves technology and all kinds of devices. One day, he brought his new tablet to the computer lab, and we worked converting music files for a whole week. He loves classical music and wants to listen to his music during his commute and whenever he wants with his new toy.

While conducting research, I discovered the Korean Center and started tutoring Korean seniors about how to use smartphones and tablets.

I tutored a Korean elder I met at the Korean Center about how to use her smartphone. She knew nothing about her phone except how to make phone calls. She doesn’t have many friends nearby, and her sons don’t speak Korean well. Her son was unwilling to teach her how to use her new phone. He told her that she didn’t need to know how to use a smartphone. She wanted to use the phone to better communicate with her son.

LED FUNNow she knows how to use her smartphone in many ways. She downloads free apps and uses them to call relatives and friends in Korean and her sister in Canada.

Our most satisfying project was downloading a popular Korean app that allows users to scroll messages similar to an LED sign on their phone screen. People hold their smartphone up and use this app to cheer someone up or at a concert to share short messages across the room to actors or singers. She uses the app to send short messages to her son when he is acting badly. The mood at home is getting better, and she is happy and less lonely.

This might look like very small thing, but these small things help improve communications between everyone. My learners are not lonely anymore, and I’m happy with that.

Volunteer Spotlight: Jang Sunjung

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Joanna Bell
editor