“Learning anything takes a lot of courage,” reflects volunteer digital coach Serena Pang. “I think the seniors are really brave that they’re willing to learn how to use the tablets.”
In December 2020, Serena Pang graduated from the University of San Francisco with a degree in computer science and finance. While searching for a job, she happened upon CTN’s digital coach volunteer program. Serena had the right skill set for the opportunity and felt motivated to help older adults impacted by the pandemic. In March, she completed her volunteer training and has since worked with two Home Connect learners!
As a web developer, Serena has an in-depth knowledge of computer systems and technologies. However, teaching an absolute beginner how to use the internet requires relatability and patience. Working with her older learners, Serena finds ways to convert her expertise into simplified concepts and encourage the learners to try new things. “When I’m learning, it is also hard for me to take the first step because it’s an area that I’m not familiar with. I’m afraid that I’m doing it wrong. This applies the same to the seniors. I always tell them not to be afraid to try to do things and open new applications because we’re always here to help.”
For Serena, one beneficial aspect of being a digital coach is that it improves her communication skills. If a learner has some sort of technical problem that Serena isn’t sure about, she joins her learner in the process of figuring it out. “Sometimes I don’t know the solutions. I’m not familiar with it. So I tell them, okay, let’s go to Google and search how to solve this. … I try to give my learners the mindset that if you don’t know about something right now, it doesn’t mean that you cannot solve it later.”
Serena is also motivated by her learners’ courage and dedication. She recognizes that internet access is especially important for seniors during the pandemic. Whether it is to access essential resources or lessen feelings of loneliness, the internet can help seniors remain active in their lives and communities. “Personally, I couldn’t live without my phone and computers,” Serena reflects. “I can’t imagine how hard it is for them. I think it’s really important that we keep them up to date and not overlook them.”
With the help of volunteers like Serena, CTN can offer continued support to seniors as they take on new digital skills. If you have an extra hour a week, consider joining our volunteer team today!