July 15, 2016

Inspiration from the other side of the world

I had the privilege of teaching Baxter’s “Intro to Computers” Class this summer. A wonderful experience filled with learning and laughter. Most of my students were learning how to use a computer for the very first time, something that can be both challenging and intimidating.

During our first class I wanted to tell my new students an encouraging story. I wanted them to know that no matter how hard it seemed they could learn and use this wonderful technology for their everyday life. The best example I had was my own grandmother, who with only a 3rd grade education began her journey into the computer world at the young age of 70. Once I started having kids of my own my grandfather (who passed away a few years ago) decided that not being able to see his great-grandkids was just too much, so he bought a computer, signed up for an internet service and asked my grandmother to “figure it out” so that we could Skype. Years later, my grandma has become a computer wiz, and with the passing of my grandpa combined with her lack of mobility, her computer has become her window to the world, her family and long lost friends. As I shared my grandma’s story with my Baxter students they were extremely encouraged, so as we prepared to wrap-up our 8-week course last week I had a special treat for them: We “skyped” with my grandma all the way from Argentina!

I acted as the interpreter between my grandma’s Spanish and our Baxter neighbor’s English. But to be honest, a lot of interpreting wasn’t needed. Both parties, separated by thousands of miles, culture and more, became one as my students saw my grandma’s eyes fill up with tears as she described being able to see her grandchildren for the first time. They rejoiced and laughed with her as she shared some her early struggles and the “tricks” she discovered to overcome them. Overall, it was an incredible experience. I was able to see my now 75 year old grandmother encourage and inspire women of a different race and culture from thousands of miles away!

Teaching this class was an incredible experience and I look forward to our upcoming class int he Fall. We are also looking for volunteers who are willing to give an hour of their time each week so we can open up new classes at different levels of expertise. If you were able to navigate to this article on your own and have a passion for people, you qualify! Let us know if you would like to volunteer as a computer teacher through Baxter and help broaden the world of a senior adult in our community.

Written by: Juan M Fernandez, Development Director.
Pictured: Juan’s Grandmother Noemi and Grandfather Josue.