Volunteer digital coach Ji Shi moved to the U.S. from China to study computer science. After graduating last year, Ji was unable to return to her native country due to COVID-19. In the meantime, she decided to use her free time to volunteer and help others. When Ji came across CTN’s opportunity for bilingual digital coaches, she knew it would be the perfect fit.
With a background in technology, Ji recognizes the importance of digital skills to our daily lives: “I know it is hard during this time for people who are not able to access technology during the pandemic. My grandparents back in China are having a hard time without using apps and technology. I thought it would be great if I could help other people to make their life more convenient.”
Ji has now completed all 12 sessions with her home connect learner, James. Before beginning the program, Ji’s learner didn’t know how many different uses there are for his tablet. As he became more comfortable with it, Ji taught him how to use social media, join meetings, watch videos, and play games. One highlight for Ji was teaching James how to use Google Maps to find a photo of his childhood home. She also helped him get connected with distant family members via Google Meet and even taught his sister how to use the app.
As Ji helps James feel less lonely, he helps her become a more patient listener and skilled teacher. She initially thought it would be difficult to teach a total beginner how to use the internet. Ji worried that she would talk too fast or think something was common sense to her that was completely new for the learner. Over time, however, Ji found the experience has made her a more intentional listener. “Sometimes the learners can’t express themselves in words, so I’ve learned to explore what they are trying to say to discover what they truly need.”
“I’d say volunteering with CTN is a good activity to help people who really need the help. Connecting with families or friends is especially important to people who are living alone at this time. It doesn’t take lots of time to do that, but just a little effort will help them to improve their life in a big way!”