By Julia Turnbull
If you had never used the Internet before, much less a computer, what question would you type into the Google search bar?
This is the question we posed to five women in Teotitlán who came yesterday afternoon to begin learning how to use computers and the Internet. Shy at first, the women appeared with notebooks and a keen interest in learning how to navigate the web. While we intended to begin the lesson with computer basics, such as keyboard symbols and learning how to save files, the women wanted to know about the good stuff: e-mail and the Internet.
The women are fast learners, and very efficient with their time. They quickly got the hang of the mouse, shortcuts, and listening to music.
When first asked what they wanted to search the web for, many searched for topics that are familiar and close to home, such as recipes, rugs, and even chickens and sewing. They watched themselves and their neighbors on En Vía’s Youtube videos. Others explored Google maps and were thrilled to learn that they can use street-view to see the homes of relatives in California.
Dominga, a weaver, turned on a computer for the first time yesterday afternoon. By the end of the 90-minute session, she had established her own e-mail account and explored eBay. She is determined to find new markets for her rugs and learn how to make the most of the Internet to connect herself to the world beyond Oaxaca. Each woman left with a smile on her face and assured us that she would be back for another lesson next Thursday. The women, many of whom have never left the Oaxaca Valley, will now able to keep in touch with friends and relatives, with En Vía’s volunteers, and tourists from all over the world.
Each time I drop in on one of En Vía’s classes, I am impressed by how much the women want to learn and how quickly they begin to apply their new skills, whether they are taking the English, business, or technology classes.