Preparing Students for a Tech-Centered Future

by Justin Stafinski

blogphoto (1)  blogphoto1

If you’re like me and 56% of Americans* living in the United States today, you own a smartphone and have likely checked your email (and possibly Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and CNN too) before even rolling out of bed this morning! The current generation of youth are by far the most connected in history and are living proof that the internet and “connectedness” are becoming inextricably linked to our functioning in everyday life. Like it or not, whether you see it as a blessing or a curse, this is the way our society is moving. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine a world without this level of connectedness, but it does exist and its citizens get along just fine…for now!

Many of my adult students have had less exposure to technology and the workings of a computer in their entire lives than I had in my first 7 years. Strange, isn’t it? We’re located in one of the most technologically advanced nations in Latin America and yet there are individuals under 30 who just don’t know how to use a computer. Welcome to rural Potrero. Despite the lack of skills, more and more local employers are looking for candidates with a high level of computer fluency.

Theologian Frederick Buechner said that, “vocation is where our greatest passion meets the world’s greatest need.” In my Stateside life, I run a technology consulting company focused on “utilizing technology for the Greater Good” and as Abriendo Mentes’ new Technology Coordinator, I have been given the opportunity to continue that work, teaching others the technology skills that I passionately utilize in my everyday life and work to fill a great need in this place, all the while gaining an insight into life that I could only learn from Latin Americans.

Day by day, class by class, we learn hand-in-hand with one another. My students (both youth and adult) learn about Word Processing, Presentations, Internet Research, Database Management, Network Implementation, and more while I learn more about patience, being laid back and care free, living life day-by-day and investing into the lives of those around me. We laugh, we smile, we yell, we get frustrated–and we do it together! We prepare for the future, together. In a world that is increasingly tech-centered, we prepare to be efficient and effective in business and patient, kind, accepting, and loving in life, toward those we know and those are getting to know.

It’s an important balance, if you ask me.

* Smartphone Ownership 2013. Pew Internet & Life Project. (http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2013/Smartphone-Ownership-2013/Findings.aspx)
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