In May 2015, NTEN and Google Fiber launched the Digital Inclusion Fellowship, a new national program investing in local communities and nonprofit organizations to address the digital divide. Sixteen Fellows comprised the first cohort; and they shared their work in progress earlier this year. We asked Naymar Prikhodko to give us an update on her work with Skillpoint Alliance.
What is an important moment that will stay with you well past your Fellowship year?
I have trained 13 residents of the Housing Authority of the City of Austin (HACA) who have been challenging themselves to be more involved in the community and to develop personal and professional goals. The HACA Computer Lab Assistants have worked on their action plans, have come to monthly training sessions with me, and have worked diligently to develop abilities to assist other HACA residents in the use of technology. During this learning process—both for the Computer Lab Assistants and for me as a facilitator and mentor—I will always remember the satisfaction I felt when one of them facilitated her first workshop on Computer Basic Skills to HACA residents. The joy and sense of realization surpassed my expectations when I saw one of my trainees giving back to the community and empowering others through her work.
What advice would you have for the next cohort of Fellows?
Be committed to your position as a Digital Inclusion Fellow. The extent of working for and with the community depends on a personal decision to serve, to mentor, and to facilitate workshops on digital inclusion topics. For those who are new in the position, I would say that the first three months will be challenging while they are spent becoming acquainted with the Fellowship and the expectations from the host organization. During this exploratory time, I suggest you rely on the advice from both your NTEN supervisor and the host organization team lead, not to mention support from other Fellows, especially those who have experience in the position. Also, ask questions about all the resources available, and pay attention to the available support in the community for networking and partnership.
When you think of what your community has accomplished this year, what are you most proud of?
I am proud of contributing to empowering more than 80 people through my digital inclusion workshops oriented to parents, Parent Specialists, and HACA residents. I am also proud of being able to amplify the Empower program and of increasing the number of participants in the program an average of 25% per quarter.
How have you grown this year?
I went from being an instructor to becoming an informal life coach while working with my clients’ professional and personal development. I built up a curriculum developed to empower people in the use of technology. This curriculum is part of a pilot focusing on training 13 Computer Lab Assistants who assist other residents in three HACA computer labs. I have learned different strategies to motivate others; I use these strategies for helping participants understand tech choices, connect them to available community resources, and help them set and achieve their goals. I have improved my time management by setting up measurable goals, recognizing problem areas, keeping a daily log, categorizing activities, prioritizing tasks, and summarizing data.
How can you see yourself applying what you have learned to your future endeavors?
I see myself expanding my service and helping others recognize their competencies, abilities, and significant skills. I see myself inspiring and motivating others and helping them discover new ways to think about a subject. I am using more stories as the best way to explain concepts, because I understand stories are the best way for humans to communicate and find connection. As I learn and apply new techniques for facilitating workshops, I can see my own potential to become a life coach and motivational speaker and continue my journey of being an instrument of empowerment.