Transforming lives through digital literacy.

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When expat Brenda Joyce came to visit family in the U.S. last spring, she planned to stay just two or three months. Because she left her personal computer back home in Thailand, Brenda was stuck in the U.S. with an old iPhone that had limited features and a tiny screen.

An amateur anthropologist, Brenda has traveled across the globe — from a stint as a research administrator in Antarctica to working on the oil pipeline in Alaska, to hitchhiking around the Middle East and Asia, to making a home in Australia. She seeks to understand the world from different perspectives and is highly curious about other cultures. “Everywhere I could go, I have seized opportunities,” she reflects. “I always say I gave all my money to the airlines. I could have had a more comfortable life but not as exciting a life.”

So what is a world traveler to do when the world goes under lockdown? After getting connected with the Home Connect program through the San Francisco Senior Center, Brenda received a Lenovo tablet that has made all the difference.

With the help of her training booklet and digital coach, Brenda now continues her travels virtually. “I attend many virtual tours, events, and museums around the world,” says Brenda. “I Zoom my friends in Thailand and around the world … I can actually do more now than I could physically at this age.”

One of Brenda’s favorite events is the Frick Museum’s Cocktails with a Curator. Every Friday, she joins the live webcast event in which a curator discusses an artwork and creates a cocktail based on the artwork’s theme. “You sit and sip and learn in the most pleasant, educated manner!”

Brenda also participates in an online collaging class. Each week, she is given an assignment, photographs it, and sends it to her instructor. The next week, the class meets over Zoom to present their various interpretations. “This has stretched me,” says Brenda. “It has truly improved my internal artist. In fact, we are going to have our virtual collages in an exhibit in San Francisco!”

Brenda has an undeniable zest for life. Her story reminds us that technology isn’t just a practical tool — it is a gateway to creativity, expression, and discovery. We are inspired to hear about the ways Brenda embraces her new tablet, and hope it inspires the inner traveler within us all!

Pictured: Brenda’s beautiful artwork from her virtual collaging class

collage featuring books and photos of a baby and the Golden Gate bridgecollage featuring rocks and water

Learner Spotlight: Brenda Joyce

About Author

Anna Beth Lane
editor