Thursday, July 23, 2009

Teaching Seniors

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa
Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh

Over the summer of 2008 Prince George Sikh Youth Society members helped Punjabi seniors learn basic computer skills. The Punjabi Canadian Seniors Society recently got new computers and technology due to government grants. They partnered up with the Sikh Youth to help get the most benefit out of them. This helped bridge the gap between the two as the youth taught the seniors something that they knew, while the seniors helped the youth learn things from the wisdom that they knew. Many times, and not just in the Punjabi culture, seniors feel isolated from the younger generations due to the rapid advancement of technology. This is amplified in the Punjabi culture since many younger children and teens are forgetting Punjabi, which is the main and sometimes only language spoken by the elders. More and more isolation is being felt by older Punjabi immigrants, who know little about technology and English.

In this project, PG Sikh Youth members got to interact with the seniors and teach them basic skills of navigating on the computer and on the Internet. One of the favorite things the seniors enjoyed was reading religious scriptures or Punjabi newspapers on the Internet. PG Sikh Youth members also constructed a basic manual written in Punjabi with illustrations on how to navigate on the computer. In this way the seniors could self learn or remind themselves in the future, making them self-reliant.

This was an enjoyable experience, and the members on both sides learned a lot. The youth feel that this gives seniors a new kind of freedom and boosts their self esteem. The internet is taken by granted by many young people as it is a vital search tool. Teaching how to navigate on the internet benefited the seniors greatly as they learned how to search Gurbani (Sikh Scriptures) or listen to keertan/music live from the Golden Temple/Harminder Sahib. Our favorite parts include teaching the seniors how to access divine music/keertan from all around the world by accessing the Sikhnet radio channels. Sikhnet is a great website on Sikhism and we taught Punjabi seniors how to use it to the fullest.

Seniors taught the youth a lot too. They helped us refine our oral and written Punjabi skills since we explained things in Punjabi. Personally it was very fun to interact with them and learn about their hobbies and what they enjoy and like. We also got to know a little bit of their past life in India and their life right now in Canada. They were kind of afraid of using the technology at first, but with time they built their self-confidence. We have seen these elders attending temple every Sunday for the past decades, but we really never got to know them. This project provided the perfect opportunity.

Here are some pictures.

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