Copy and Paste: As Simple as Sewing a Straight Stitch

Author: Celina Glabus

Copy and Paste: As Simple as Sewing a Straight Stitch

Using a computer is a fairly simple task. Turn computer on. Create Word document. Hold shift down to make a capital letter. Press the spacebar after each word. To delete a word, backspace. To delete a paragraph, highlight, then backspace. To undo, press that little arrow in the top left-hand corner, but not too many times or you’ll clear your entire document. A period is a full stop but that little coma thing next to it can be used too, if for a pause.

I’ve used at least five different variations of symbols to type that paragraph. Each one comes naturally to me. The language is familiar. It’s like driving a vehicle without thinking about your next step; you’ve gotten so used to the motions, you don’t need to work out every single step you need to take to get from point A to point B.

Try to remember the first time you ever used a computer, or the first time you ever created your own Word document, or maybe the first time you finally got that Excel spreadsheet to work. I’m going to make the assumption that most of us (unless you were born before 1977) can’t pinpoint the exact day we felt confident using a computer. Most of us took IT classes in elementary school and got oodles of practice using our own. And with the current prevalence of technology in the Western world, using a computer is just as easy as driving confidently from point A to point B. So when something comes this naturally, it’s really hard to teach it to someone who has zero experience with it; and my internship consists of doing exactly that.

I am an intern for Global Vision International (GVI), on a Women’s Empowerment internship in a township near Cape Town, South Africa. The internship consists mainly of computer workshops with women, aged 18-65. We teach them about the basics of computers; how to turn the computer on; how to save a file; how to write a Word document; how to create a PowerPoint presentation; how to make an Excel spreadsheet. A typical lesson is 30 minutes and women will generally take 4-10 classes, depending on their capabilities and time commitments, before completing the course. Upon completion we offer CV and Google workshops, both of which put the women in a better position to seek employment. As such, my experience thus far has taught me that patience (a virtue I admittedly seldom use) is integral to teaching the women effectively; to accept their abilities and encourage their learning is the first step to empowerment. It wasn’t until my first sewing class in Cape Town that I fully embraced how important this was.

I was required to take one sewing class before I could be involved with the sewing workshop, another component to the Women’s Empowerment program. The sewing class was as basic as our first computer lesson, turning the machine on, getting familiar with its design, etc. These simple tasks were completely foreign to me, and I didn’t want to appear inadequate in front of our teacher, so I often said “yes, I understand”, when, really, I wasn’t following in the slightest. That is when I made the parallel between the computer workshops and sewing class; I cannot take for granted the familiarity I have with a vital piece of technology when teaching another individual how to use it. Nor will I take for granted this lesson; although I do hope I leave South Africa knowing I have given more than I have learned.

 - Celina Glabus, VIU Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies Intern and Queen Elizabeth Scholar



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