Adults Rise Against the Machines


Last updated 8/27/2015 at 11:11am

Miguel Rocha

Jesús helps José navigate the web.

New computer classes offered free through the Borrego Springs Education Foundation and aimed at adults with limited computer skills are currently being held Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. in the library at Borrego Springs High School. Additional classes can also be arranged on Saturdays and Sundays. Weekend-only classes will start Sept. 19, and will run 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Thirty adult students are currently taking advantage of these classes, which began in June and are being taught by Borrego Springs High School graduates Tania Fuerte, now at San Francisco State University, and Jesús Arias, who is attending the University of California San Diego. Other students are welcome to join the classes at any time. Notebooks and pencils are provided and seventeen computers are available.

"They are setting the example for all those people who told them they were too old to learn," Tania said. "They are going out and proving them wrong."

Prior to these classes, many of the students had never used a computer. Some were scared of the mouse. Some were told that attending the classes was a waste of time. But they persevere and are proving pessimists wrong. They work and practice, and the more they learn, and as time progresses, they understand that it isn't difficult, but instead, something mechanic.

As soon as the library's doors open, the students eagerly walk in, log into the computers, and open their documents. They are learning Microsoft Word and how to navigate the Internet. They now know how to navigate the web and insert images into Word and save files. They have also created e-mail accounts and are able to write professional e-mails addressing their kids' teachers. Through it all, Tanya and Jesús sit beside them and work patiently on every single question.

"You just see it, learn it, and practice it," Jesús said.

The Latino community currently utilizes the services, though anyone is welcome. Multiple sessions throughout the day accommodate the rigorous work schedules of the stalwart students. Some work around their schedules to attend the morning classes, before or after work. Sessions are meant to run for an hour and a half, but some stay longer to finish a project or just to grasp a concept. The largest session is composed of seven students; smaller groups receive more attention.

Students have also written biographies as part of their classes and are now working on research projects in topics of interest including diabetes, nutrition, traveling and issues pertaining to their personal lives. Each student will eventually deliver a Powerpoint presentation in front of class. Their work, pasted onto the wall of the library, is a constant and auspicious reminder that they are making progress in conquering the computer.

Teresa Garcia is currently working on a Powerpoint presentation about Puerto Rico, her husband's homeland. By attending the computer classes she feels "very fulfilled and happy."

Student Christina Araujo wrote an essay about the history of Baja California, Mexico.

"The more I attend, the more I like it and learn more," Christina said.

Husband and wife José and Maria Escobedo attend the classes together. José is currently learning how to browse the web. Though he struggled in the beginning, his ultimate goal is to dominate the computer.

Maria wants to communicate with her kids' teachers and be at the same computer level as her children.

All the current students are interested in learning computer skills to help their children with homework and help them succeed - and also to monitor what they do online.

"If you walk in the room and your child minimizes the screen, you know what to do," Tanya chuckled. She has shown them how to bring the screen back up, and check for recent search history. "Parents then say, 'Oh, so that's what he is doing! I know how to catch him now!' "

Not everything runs smoothly in class. Some students face memorization struggles in browsing the Internet and computer programs.

"We enjoy seeing them overcome their obstacles," Fuerte said.

Arias adds, "It doesn't matter how long you take with a person, you want to make sure he or she doesn't have any questions; I don't like moving on knowing that someone doesn't get it."

Even if it is late at night, say 9:00 p.m., students are often determined to stay and finish their daily projects.

The students set a positive example that it is never too late to learn.

"You are the perfect example, the role model for anybody, especially for your kids," Jesús tells his students.

Both instructors hope that the students don't stop using the computer after the summer. Students were sad upon learning that their instructors had to go back to school. However, after seeing their desire for knowledge, Arias agreed to make weekend trips from UCSD to teach them and all others who want to start coming to the classes. Some are already letting him know they plan to attend. Anyone interested can call Tania at 760-274-5621 or Jesús at 760-315-3864.

In the wake of technological evolution, it is no longer enough to know how to turn the TV on and off. It is an era when two-year-olds can easily maneuver iPhones and tablets as if they were born with an innate ability to use technology.

Now there is an opportunity for adults to catch up with these kids, right here in Borrego.