Written by: Marielle Belisario, Program Associate

I was worried before joining Keiro during the summer of 2018. What was it that I — a soon-to-be-graduate from the University of California, Irvine — could offer to the Japanese-American and Japanese community? Surprisingly enough, it was because of the fact that I was a young, emerging professional that I had something to offer.

Generation Z (a.k.a. Post-Millennials) is the generation that follows Generation Y (a.k.a. Millennials). Being among the youngest of Gen Y but also among the oldest of Gen Z, I consider myself to be influenced by the cultures of both. What that means is that technology, a huge part of both generations’ cultures, has been a large part of my life as well. In fact, it has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.

Tech Hour at Long Beach Japanese Cultural Center

My father has always been an avid tech guy. Before I started kindergarten, I was already being taught how to use the computer, playing games like Petz, Reader Rabbit, and my favorite, The Sims. In the 2nd grade, I was even playing online games with others around the world! Due to my father’s interest in everything tech-related, I developed an affinity for computers, gaming, websites, and all things in-between. Here at Keiro, I have had the privilege of being able to use these skills to showcase and teach technology to older adults throughout our community.

I co-facilitate numerous sessions of our six-week “Introduction to iPad” course, where participants learn iPad basics such as the device’s physical hardware and its software features, like how to use the FaceTime app. Participants follow along with us on their own device, as we provide demonstrations and in-depth explanations. Recently we have even created a “Technology Hour” course, which is a 1-hour Q&A session where participants have the opportunity to ask Keiro staff various questions about their personal devices. Though this is still a new course, our Technology Hour sessions have helped us build closer relationships with the many regulars whom partake in the program weekly.

However, just because I have grown up alongside technology my entire life does not mean that I know it all. In fact, we regularly hit obstacles during our programs when our devices do not cooperate with us. Participants often remark, “Oh, I don’t know. I’m too old for this stuff.” Yet despite that, many participants laugh away and continue to practice and discover the other features their devices can offer. A few of our participants have even been inspired to go out and buy their own iPads because they saw not only the value, but how enjoyable they are. Some participants tell us how useful the Notes app is, while others tell of how fun Siri is to talk to. From these classes, they have told us they feel empowered to try new tasks and find other ways they can incorporate technology into their daily lives.

Hosting these programs reminds me of the days my father would help me type and click around while I was still learning the ropes. Certainly technology is useful, but more importantly it is fun to use and to explore, regardless of your age or ethnicity — that is what makes technology so wonderful. The ultimate goal of the programs we offer is for everyone to come out of the experience more knowledgeable and excited about the use of technology, just like it was for us in the younger generations as we were growing up. What a rewarding time it has been!

Making an arthritis presentation at Nikkei Senior Gardens