Nikkei bridge the digital, generational divide

CONNECTING ­— Lauren Morimoto (left) assists Hiroshi Kashiwagi (right) at a Digital Leadership Program, held at the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California, in San Francisco’s Japantown. photo by Aidan Noda/Nichi Bei Weekly

Youth and seniors are slowly bridging the gap between the community through a series of workshops that are being held at the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California (JCCCNC).

The Digital Leadership Program’s classes encourage senior citizens to embrace technology, and allow San Francisco Japantown’s youth to develop their communication skills.

The classroom setting is relaxed, with approximately four seniors per youth teacher.

Ryan Kimura, JCCCNC’s director of programs and community relations, facilitates the classes. Kimura leads the room with ease, assigning tasks for the seniors to perform. The high school students patiently guide the seniors as they perform various computer-related tasks.

The first workshop was held on Dec. 10, 2011. The classes resumed on Feb. 4, and will take place every other week, through March 24.

The Japantown Youth Leaders — a program of the Japanese Community Youth Council — have been undergoing training since early October. The youth meet for nearly two hours every week to develop lesson plans for the upcoming Saturday workshops. “It is one of the most fun and engaging programs for all ages,” Kimura said.

The seniors have learned how to use the Internet to find their favorite songs. During a recent workshop, many of the students chose to play “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”

The youth leaders have also helped the seniors to familiarize themselves with using Google to search the Internet. The seniors were asked to find the height of Mt. Fuji, as well as save photos from a place that they would like to visit. The travel destinations included places such as Miyajima, Japan, Spain and the Disney resort in Kapolei, Hawai‘i. The students even raced against each other to complete an online scavenger hunt.

The students’ proficiency with the computer varied greatly. Many students initially struggled with some of the tasks, but with the youth teachers’ assistance, there were noticeable improvements toward the end of the two-hour long class.

Nancy Okano said the class reinforced what she already knew. Another student, May Yamamoto, was originally unsure about taking the class, but decided to take it anyway. “I thought I could learn something,” she said.

Kimura says he hopes they will hold similar workshops in the summer.

For more information, call (415) 567-5505 or e-mail

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