The following story first appeared in the October edition of the CCS internal newsletter, CCS Voices, but the story was so charming, we thought we would bring CCS Brampton literacy coach’s Ocean Miller’s thoughtful account to a wider audience. (In the adjoining photo, Ocean is seated in the middle window on the top row.)

Despite having experience with facilitating training programs, I was truthfully intimidated when I transitioned into the role of literacy coach in the Digital Literacy training program with CCS — especially as it was in the midst of the global pandemic wreaking havoc on our lives.

However, the situation has allowed for us to slow down and reflect. It was the first time for me to work with seniors in a remote environment. I wondered what to expect teaching literacy skills online to a group of seniors? I thought it was going to be a difficult task and I wanted to be involved with it.

My nerves quickly disappeared after I sat through a session presented by fellow coaches Bukola (Otulana) and Gurpreet (Nagi). They showed me the ropes and gave me tips on how best to solicit the interest of the seniors. It turned out to be a great experience.

Overall, I spent a total of seven weeks training with a group of the most amazing seniors. All of the seniors were from the South Asian community. I was also grateful to have the support of two peer volunteers acting as interpreters within the class.

“It was a fun group. I learned as much from the seniors as they did from me.”

In our final discussion of the program, I asked the seniors how they would use the information and skills they learned in the future. They shared that they enjoyed the mutual process of learning the most.

“The digital literacy training sessions have helped me to become a more independent learner. Before we were all scared to even touch the keyboard out of fear of messing something up on the computer, but now, we are way more comfortable,” one client commented.

“Learning more about the internet has made it easier to connect to my friends, family and culture back home,” another said.

The training program has increased the confidence of seniors in learning new skills and more importantly to remove the fear of using the computer and email, as well as apps like Facebook, WhatsApp, and Microsoft Word. They are now aware of the steps to take to maintain safety when using the internet and their smart phones. Now these seniors would be able to connect with their love ones anywhere in the world.

One highlight was our virtual graduation ceremony where we recognized seniors for completing the full training and awarded each of them with a certificate of completion. Lots of smiles!

For me, being a part of this summer program, and CCS’ Brampton group, has been a special experience. It showed me how much I love teaching and facilitating, as well as confirming my passion for human services and community engagement. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to be here at CCS.