Helping Chinese New Yorkers to become Google-literate

Updated: 2014-04-21 11:24

By Jack Freifelder in New York (China Daily USA)

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In an increasingly connected world, some people find themselves on the outside looking in when it comes to technological savvy.

The mutual goal of Internet behemoth Google Inc and the Hudson Guild, a community development organization with roots in the late 19th century, is to equip everyone with at least a few online tools.

Close to 100 Chinese residents of Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood attended a Google Gmail training class Friday at the guild's Fulton Senior Center in New York.

Guild executive director Ken Jockers said his organization serves a wide group of people in Chelsea, so "it's important to do this type of communication session here at the neighborhood center".

"We work with children, teenagers, older adults, families - many who are learning or don't speak English, so this is where people come," Jockers told China Daily. "Today we're teaching Chinese-speaking individuals how to use Google Translate in order to get around, make appointments and navigate the city."

In a two-hour workshop, representatives from Google's New York office taught senior citizens how to navigate the various features that a Google Gmail account provides.

The participants learned how to use Google's location-based functions, translation applications and video conferencing capabilities, as well as email.

Jessica Rosso, Hudson Guild's assistant director, said Google's and other local businesses' willingness to give back and interact with the community is "an important part of this event".

"It's been recent that we've been able to reach out to the Chinese community that's a part of the population that makes up this neighborhood," Rosso said. "We've made great progress, and this is another way we can continue to build on that progress."

"My favorite statistic about who we serve is we have kids as young as 2 years old and our oldest participant is 102 years old, so it's a very large gamut that we cover," she said.

The Hudson Guild, founded in 1895 as a settlement house, promotes community interaction through a wide array of programs and services. Each year close to 15,000 people participate in Hudson Guild programs, including offerings in five main program areas: Early Childhood, Youth Development & Education, Adult Services, Mental Health Services and the Arts and Community Building.

Helping Chinese New Yorkers to become Google-literate

Amanda Del Balso, a member of the Google Community Affairs Team that led the workshop, said she enjoyed watching the seniors learn and interact with the latest Google technology.

"A lot of the populations that we work with may not have their own computer or smartphone, so they're at the Hudson Guild using what we've donated or at a library using a desktop computer," Del Balso said. "What's nice is Google Translate is something you can use on all devices, and we try not to let the cost of having a physical device prohibit someone from having access to a particular service."

As part of the event, Google donated tablet devices to the Fulton Senior Center and installed a wireless network for residents to use in their spare time, Jockers said.

Helping Chinese New Yorkers to become Google-literate

Senior citizens and members of the younger generation take part in a Google Gmail training class on Friday at the Hudson Guild's Fulton Senior Center in New York's Chelsea district. Jack Freifelder / China Daily

(China Daily USA 04/21/2014 page2)