Voices From the Lab: Fear Turns to Joy at Austin Free-Net

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Client Brenda Herndon“I’m afraid of touching it; I’ll break it,” said new Austin Free-Net client Brenda Herndon as she sat down at a computer desk inside The DeWitty Center computer lab. “No, I’m okay; I’ll just watch my friend work on his computer,” she continued when asked if she’d like to learn alongside her friend.

Friendly and shy, Brenda accompanied her friend, Kent Billingsley, as he learned to use the computer for free.  They visited AFN during Broadband Across Texas Week on “Bring a Buddy – Get a Bus Pass” day.

Our Trainers recognized and respected Brenda’s fear and discomfort at being surrounded by a room full of technology she didn’t understand.  All of our staff knows how frightening computers can be in general, but also, how embarrassing it can be to lack the knowledge to use one.

“There’s a certain level of fear and shame that accompanies many of our clients into the classroom,” states Director of Programming and Training, Lori Williams.   “Our mission, with each client, is to teach with respect and understanding and to ensure the fear they feel is alleviated through education.”

The Trainer worked with Kent to show him how to move his mouse, turn on and off his monitor and how the keys feel when pressed.  His smile was contagious and Brenda overcame her anxiety and asked if it would be possible to try to use one.

Raised in Austin, Texas Brenda overcame her embarrassment and used her computer.  And, within a very short period of time, Brenda created her own email address and began working on building her resume.  She’s returned to our class every day she could.

“It’s awesome,” Brenda beamed.  “Now, I’m going to learn all that I can!”


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