Voices in the Lab: Elevation Station Meets Local Needs

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For five strangers at Elevation Station, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are for computer basics. Thanks to a U.S. Department of Commerce grant supplied to Texas Connects Coalition, founding member Technology For All provides free computer access and training to Houston’s heavily multicultural Spring Branch neighborhood.

The class is designed to give Spanish-speaking and bilingual populations a firm foundation in computer technology, from terminology to Internet security. So while many students have different computer skills, they all get something out of the class. Alberto, the youngest student, is used to computers, “But my typing wasn’t so good.” Maria E. and Maria G. had taken computer courses elsewhere, but so much had changed they needed to catch up. Edid had no computer experience beyond her smart phone; like the other students, she was nervous.

Together, the class has pushed past the fear barrier to uncover new skills, Internet safety and online communication. Maria E. uses Facebook to communicate with her nephew in Iraq and her father in Mexico. As a nanny, she’s also had to use computers for school announcements and doctor appointments. “I’m here because I need it,” she explains. “In the future, everything’s going to be on computers.” Now that Alberto’s typing improved, he wants to tackle Internet safety. Maria G. increasingly uses computers in her ministry work. Since she wants to progress in the workforce, she knows computers will become even more essential.

Above all, the class gives them self-assurance. “We feel more secure,” says Blanca, who didn’t know how to use a keyboard when she enrolled. “We know what to do.” Edid says she has more confidence. “I want to keep learning. I’m not afraid anymore.” Maria E. says she’s excited to be here. “Those other classes were too fast. It’s step-by-step [here], which makes it easy.” Blanca adds, “I don’t want to learn just basics—technology keeps updating, so I want to keep learning.”

Elevation Station is part of the Centro Familiar Esperanza, the Spanish ministry for Chapelwood United Methodist Church. Besides a public computer lab, it offers after school programs and English as a Second Language (ESL) classes for adults and children. For more information, call 713-895-8300 or visit 3911 Campbell Road.

Translated through Technology For All Program Specialist Elmer

Source: Technology For All

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