“My learner and I have built a grandmother-granddaughter relationship,” says volunteer Joyce Banks. “I treat her like my grandmother, and she treats me like a granddaughter. We spend a lot of our time together talking about life, which has helped her trust me as a teacher. That really warms my heart.”
During quarantine, Joyce found herself with more spare time than usual. With her studies on pause due to the pandemic, she sought to spend that extra time volunteering and making a difference. When Joyce came across CTN’s listing for Tagalog-speaking volunteers (her native language), she quickly applied. “I know computers. I wanna teach people. CTN is the perfect fit!”
Joyce has worked with her learner, Donna, for about three months. They are currently working on how to access healthcare online. Joyce has also taught her how to make Zoom calls, send emails, play games, and explore the internet. “Sometimes, my learner asks me to recommend her an app that will bring her mood up or make her fall asleep better,” remarks Joyce. “I helped her download an app that plays rain sounds. Now she is so relieved to sleep more peacefully. When she is bored, she can play Candy Crush. I also taught her how to use YouTube, and now she plays her old favorite songs with karaoke. She would tell me that she is brought back to her childhood. That makes me so happy.”
Joyce and Donna’s sessions highlight a key component to our Home Connect program: making connections. “My learner is pretty isolated and can feel down sometimes … whenever I call her, she gets so happy and says, ‘Hi, Joyce, how are you? I miss you! I have been alone for the whole day.’ So we would just talk and talk.”
As a tech-savvy member of Gen Z, Joyce recognizes the importance of technology in the future. To stay connected with society, we have to adapt and evolve with it. Next fall, Joyce will transfer to the University of Houston to continue her studies in computer information systems. In the meantime, Joyce is helping learners feel confident, comfortable, and connected.