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  Social Service of CA - Internet Course for the Elderly
By Ho Kai Huen, Peter, Person-in-Charge

In this era of information technology, one may divorce from this incessantly changing world if one does not manage to tour in the Internet. To enable the elderly to catch up with our world and enrich their lives, the Catholic Association co-operated with Po Leung Kuk and organized an Internet course for some elderly people in our community.

The whole course consisted of four lessons which were held on Saturday mornings starting from 28 April 2001 at Mrs. Maria Cheung Social Centre for the Elderly in Diamond Hill. There were two classes in the course. 12 elderly people were in each of them. Both classes were one-hour long. In each class, there were one lecturer and six tutors teaching the elderly. All of them were volunteer workers from our school.

The course covered all basic techniques required to browse the Internet with Internet Explorer. In the first lesson, the elderly were taught how to click on the icon of Internet Explorer, how to use the links on the web page, the page up and down buttonw as well as the "back" and "forward" buttons. After teaching them these techniques, we accompanied them to browse some web pages and taught them to use the "My Favorite" function in the second lesson. More advanced knowledge was taught in the third lesson. They were introduced to use the web search engine, Yahoo. Although most of them could not type Chinese, yet they were taught to find their interested web sites through the categories made by Yahoo. Most of the elderly succeeded in finding the sites they wanted. In the last lesson, the elderly were taught how to receive and send email. With this skill, the elderly were able to communicate with their relatives and friends in a new way. We believe that after attending this course, the elderly are now able to break the barrier between them and the modern informative world.

Generally speaking, the progress of the classes could be regarded as smooth. However, there were some minor difficulties encountered during the teaching. For instance, one might see that the icons on the desktop of the screen were randomly scattered after an elderly person had used the computer. This scene happened because most elderly could not use the mouse quite well, especially the double click function. When they intended to click on the icon, they moved the icon aside instead. The incapability of using the mouse agilely also affected the use of the scroll to scroll up and down the page. Despite these difficulties, with patience and a heart to serve others, our volunteer tutors taught and encouraged them to overcome the difficulties.

Most of the elderly were friendly, humorous, sincere and intelligent. They understood new knowledge with an open mind and learn quickly. The only thing they lack was their dexterity in using the mouse. However, one must admit that physical awkwardness occurs in everyone when one become old. Instead of blaming their clumsiness and slow reaction , we should appreciate and praise their courage, eagerness and determination to learn new things.

Actually, teaching the course was not a single way of giving. We got things from the elderly as well. There was much conversation about things not relating the course between the elderly and our volunteers. Not only we learnt the virtues stated above from them, but also their invaluable and living experience. A relationship more than a student-teacher one was built between us. Apart from these, through serving in this course, we are no longer merely a receiver from our society but also a contributor. Moreover we find that life is a thing more than ICQ, computer games, books and exams. It can be very meaningful as we make other's life no longer dull and isolated. Also, by participating this course, we had a chance to be teachers. Through this, we knew that teaching was not as easy as we thought so we would treasure the education that we were receiving. Last but not least, the most invaluable things we got from this course were joy and satisfaction, just as an old Chinese saying runs, "Helping others is the source of Happiness". Through this social service scheme, the Catholic Association fulfilled its year theme "Serve+Share=Seek". We served the elderly. We shared our knowledge and ability. And finally, we seek a small tip of the meaning of happiness and life.

Here on behalf of the Catholic Association I would like to express my deepest gratitude to Miss Connie Lau and other helpers of the Po Leung Kuk. Without their help, the Internet course could never go so well. Thanks should also be given to Fr. Leung, Miss Chau, Mr. Ching, and Miss Shum for their advice and whole-hearted support. Of course, we should not forget our volunteer workers, especially those from Christian Life Community and Legion of Mary. Praise should be due to them for their contribution of time, patience and effort to serve our community.

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