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The Art of Digital Literacy

The steps are simple at first.

“Press this button. It will turn on your computer.”
“Now move the mouse. Does everyone know what a mouse is? Let’s learn the word ‘mouse.’”

Five minutes into the Hotel Housekeeping Class Instructor Pamela Seiler’s computing lesson, some students have touched a computer for more minutes than ever before in their lives.

As Seiler teaches them to move the mouse and click, one young woman leans back in her chair, a bit overwhelmed. Another looks surprised when she clicks one too many times and something pops up. She looks up from her computer and asks the teacher for help.
Hospitality Computer Art

Computer training is important for these students. Each student has enrolled in the class hoping to learn how to be a housekeeper in order to obtain a hospitality job. One day they may have to log their time sheet at a hotel or check their cleaning schedule using a computer.

Knowing how to use the internet will help them with their job search and stay connected with news in their home countries.

Seiler reassures the students with a big smile and then shows on the screen at the front of the classroom how to move the mouse over a picture, an icon. Now click two times. Open up Microsoft Paint.

She shows the students how to click and drag their mouse to make a line. “Write your name, “ she says. When most have finished, she says, “Okay, keep practicing. Write your partner’s name.” Students laugh, showing each other the shaky computer mouse writing on their screens.

One final directive. “Now draw a picture,” Pam says. “Anything. Anything you want to draw. You have 10 minutes to draw anything you want.”

The room gets very quiet. Some people want to change colors or ask, “How do I make it bigger?” But most lean forward and concentrate.

Pam chooses a new color and draws a big flower. The front row is filled with women from Ethiopia and Somalia, and they, too, lean close to their screens and draw flowers. One draws a tree. The room is quiet except for the subtle sound of clicking.

Written by Julie Rawe

The Institute’s Hospitality Class prepares New American women for their first job in the United States, which is often their first job period. Employment provides our graduates not only a source of income for their families, but also a source of independence and confidence for themselves. At the time of this post, 32 women have been placed in full time employment since the program began in October 2013.