Smart Communications, Inc. | Oct 25, 2017
[25 October 2017] Life is changing in a big way for 68-year-old Evangeline Ganzon—soon, she will join the ranks of mothers whose children are abroad.
Nanay Vangie was among about a dozen senior citizens of Brgy 734, Paco, Manila who attended the second session of the Smart Millenniors program.
Families like Nanay Vangie’s face several challenges—apart from the pain of physical separation, it can also be hard to keep in touch with loved ones in other countries.
But Nanay Vangie has a solution. She along with a group of fellow senior citizens recently learned how to make video calls using a smartphone. This happened during the second leg of the Smart Millenniors session with senior citizens of Barangay 734 in Paco, Manila.
“I can use the things I learned today to call my son, who is leaving for another country,” said Nanay Vangie. “I am glad we have this program. I am happy I learned how to use Messenger and how to make video calls.”
Smart’s “Millenniors” program—a play on the words “millennials”, who are known to be tech savvy, and “seniors”—aims to teach technology to the elderly. The second session, held in partnership with Adamson University, taught the seniors how to use Facebook Messenger, make video calls, and watch videos on Youtube.
Employee volunteers from Smart led the lecture, while students from Adamson University’s Computer Science department and Adamson’s Integrated Community Extension Services sat with the elders to provide one-on-one assistance.
“The session is really a big help. Especially with the video call, you can see each other, even if you’re far away from each other,” she added.
Among the volunteers was Toby dela Cruz, a Computer Science student at Adamson. “I did not expect that it would be this fun,” said dela Cruz. “I’m really happy we were able to help.”
Adamson Computer Science student Toby dela Cruz, one of the student-volunteers, assisted participants during the second Smart Millenniors session.
Learning at their own pace
Dela Cruz said that he also helps his mom with her gadgets sometimes. “Today’s session felt like the times when I had to help my mom with her phone and the Internet,” he said.
For dela Cruz, the most important thing for him and his peers was patience. “We really needed patience because our lolas and lolos are not like us, who could easily understand and absorb the things we were talking about,” he said.
“We just needed to go back to the things they needed to remember, again and again.”
Indeed, the lesson was initially confusing for Nanay Vangie. “The video call was hard at first,” she said. “But the instructors and the volunteers really taught us well.”
“It made me happy to see them smile,” said dela Cruz. “Some people say that they’re too old for these things—that these are for millennials only. That’s not true. They just got here late—they can still learn. We all just learn at our own pace,” he added.
Froi Endaya, a volunteer from Smart’s Human Resources team, was among those who led the lectures. “It’s nice to know that we are able to help our senior citizens pick up these basic tech skills,” he said.
“It was a very heartwarming experience. Their smiles were right up to the ears,” said Endaya, adding that he was particularly touched by the attentiveness of the participants. “There was a really attentive lola who was really interested and happy with the technology she had in her hands. I realized that lot of Filipinos are really interested in our products and services and we can help them enrich their lives helping them keep in touch with their loved ones.”
Christine Ferrer, another Smart volunteer, was also touched upon seeing how one participant reacted after activating Messenger. “I saw a grandmother add her granddaughter on Facebook and message her right away, ‘Gising ka na ba?’ It was a simple gesture of love—checking in on her ‘apo’,” she said.
Ferrer also noted how happy the seniors were to be taught how to use Youtube. “I saw the utter joy of some elders while backtracking what they missed in their favorite teleseryes or basketball games on Youtube. Simple joys made possible by learning more about Facebook and Youtube,” she said.
Digital learning for all
“I hope our seniors won’t be shy to ask questions—it’s okay to ask questions,” said dela Cruz. “It’s like when we were younger, and we didn’t know how to operate the radio, for example. It’s like an adventure. I hope they don’t get scared to keep trying and keep asking.”
“I think it’s great for seniors to be able to catch up with technology,” dela Cruz added. “Especially now that the internet is already among the major ways to bond with family and friends.”
“Smart is committed to bring digital learning to everyone, including seniors. With the Smart Millenniors program, we’re making learning through technology more accessible to more people, regardless of age,” said Stephanie Orlino, Smart Community Partnerships senior manager. [END]