ITS in Español: Internet Course Held for Spanish-speaking BC Employees
This summer, three BC ITS employees, Ramiro Oliva (Application Developer), Monica Mendoza (Systems Analyst), and David Sangurima (Technology Consultant) facilitated a series of courses giving Spanish-speaking BC employees the opportunity to learn about using the Internet.
Latino/as at Boston College (L@BC) is an organization bringing faculty, administrators, and staff together to promote the interests of the Latino community of BC. At an L@BC event a few years ago, Monica and Ramiro suggested offering an Internet course to Spanish-speaking staff, for which Ramiro had already developed a curriculum. Topics included understanding and navigating the internet using a browser, performing online transactions, and using the internet for communicating with others and for entertainment.
Earlier this year, Adaline Mirabal, co-chair of L@BC at the time, wrote a formal request that was submitted to the co-chairs of the L@BC committee, and the project was approved to be offered in the summer, sponsored by L@BC, HR, and ITS.
Publicizing the class began in May 2010, with information sent to all department heads and supervisors in the BC service sectors. Additionally, Marcela Norton, the Employee Relations Officer for Dining Services, personally asked people who she thought might be interested in the program.
Seven two-hour sessions were scheduled. David Sangurima, a Technology Consultant with experience in teaching computer skills to Spanish-speaking individuals, also volunteered to help facilitate the program.
Six BC employees from Dining Services registered for the program, which was held twice a week throughout June. Participants were from different countries, including the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Mexico. Most of them had very little exposure to computers and the internet, even though they have computers at home which are used by their families.
Ramiro taught most of the program. Popular sites such as Facebook, Hulu, and BC’s Portal were introduced. David and Monica provided individualized help when needed.
Students completed handwritten surveys before the program and online surveys after, and every respondent agreed that they had gained valuable skills to help them in their everyday life and, in some cases, at work. Survey results showed strong support for offering the program again, and the fact that it was conducted in the students’ native language was especially helpful.
Participants indicated that the program helped show them that both ITS and Boston College as a whole are supportive of service sector employees. Many suggested the program be offered as part of the BC standard employee development curriculum for Spanish-speaking employees.
After the program, Monica said she “felt a personal sense of pride and accomplishment when [she] saw the grateful faces of these individuals learning and enjoying using the skills that they gained in the class. Nothing compares to that feeling.”