Transforming lives through digital literacy.


Zhi Zhen has lived in San Francisco’s Sunset District since she and her daughter moved here in 2006 from Guangzhou, China. For many years, Zhi Zhen worked as part of an electronics manufacturing facility assembly line before health issues forced her to retire. She was enrolled in CTN’s Sunset Tech Connect program through the Sunset Branch Library, an Android tablet class taught weekly for 12 weeks. One week before the class started, the training was postponed indefinitely when city-owned facilities were shut down in response to the COVID threat.

In June, Annie Tan, a bilingual digital literacy program associate with CTN, called Zhi Zhen and informed her that CTN was offering a distance learning tablet program called Home Connect. She enrolled in the program right away and received her tablet in the mail two weeks later. She had previously taken computer classes, but her progress had been slow because of large class sizes and the complexity of the different types of devices used. She was excited that she would be having private sessions remotely with Annie, and they have completed the first five one-hour sessions in the Home Connect program.

Zhi Zhen loved the training. Annie taught her how to download apps and suggested a few based on her special needs, such as NextBus to check bus arrival times and a translation app to translate English labels and nutritional information on food packages into Chinese. Just last week, her doctor asked if she knew how to use Zoom for telemedicine visits, and she proudly answered “yes!” She also uses her tablet to watch videos via her favorite online TV station, preferring constructive news and thoughtful programs that foster peace and promote healthy and green living. “It fulfills my spiritual needs and helps me stay positive in life,” says Zhi Zhen.

Zhi Zhen knows there are still many things she can learn to do with her tablet and is patiently waiting for a Cantonese-speaking digital coach to help her expand her technology skills. CTN is currently recruiting bilingual volunteers to become digital coaches and help older adults like Zhi Zhen achieve their dreams. We would love to hear from you, especially if you speak Cantonese or Spanish!

Learner Spotlight: Zhi Zhen

About Author

Sabrina Tam