Dec. 3, 2003 – A small group of adults recently completed a course at the University of the Virgin Islands that was designed to give people who had never used computers before a basic understanding of word processing, Internet searching and e-mailing.
The UVI course, which met two evenings a week for seven weeks in a computer laboratory on the St. Croix campus, was sponsored by Children, Youth and Families at Risk, or CYFAR, a federally funded program. Participants were recruited through newspaper announcements and word of mouth.
"We teach the parents to use the computer because computer use is the wave of the future; it will not go away," UVI's St. Croix chancellor, Jennifer Jackson, said at the closing ceremony for the course. "If you don't know the computer, you and your children will be left behind."
Jackson told the course participants that buying a home computer and utilizing it daily is a good investment. "Instead of buying your children jewelry and sneakers … buy a computer for the home, and give your children a chance to be competitive," she said.
Marthious Clavier, a UVI Cooperative Extension Service staff member, a recent UVI graduate and a computer whiz, taught the course. He applauded the participants for their dedication and faithful attendance. Most students who had to miss a class came in early or stayed late at the next session to make up the time, he said.
One student spoke for many in praising Clavier at the ceremony: "We could ask him any question. He would tell us, 'No question is a foolish question.'"
The students, who ranged in age from 30 to 70, eagerly shared their trials and successes with their classmates, family and friends at the gathering.
"When I used to go out for jobs, I was always asked if I had computer experience," Kimona Stanley related. "I had to say no, and a lot of good jobs passed me by. Now I have computer skills."
Rachel Calixte said she always used to telephone her children to ask them "How do you do this? How do you do that?" when she was on the computer. "Now I can order things over the computer by myself!" she said.
Victoria Sylvester was one of three teachers who took the course. "I was completely computer illiterate," she said. "The administration said they were going to put computers in every classroom, and it was time for me to get training." She added: "I got the computer in my classroom last week, and I can use it."
Esther Burroughs said when she had tried to sign up for the course, she was told there were no more openings. But that did not deter her. "I asked Mr. Clavier if I could just sit in," she said, "and after two weeks he had a computer there that I could use."
Receiving certificates for completion of the course were Burroughs, Calixte, Margaret Clavier, Adina Daisley, Christian Merchant, Avelyn G. Moses, Tim Nicholas, Pamela Rogers, Donna Samuel, Kimona Stanley, Marion Stanley, Eloi Sylvester and Victoria Sylvester.
Taking part in the ceremony along with Jackson and Marthious Clavier were Kwame Garcia Sr., territorial Cooperative Extension Service director; and Lois Sanders, assistant director of the 4-H Family and Consumer Science Program.
Other Cooperative Extension Service programs at the university include tutoring of youth after school, 4-H activities, and courses in nutrition, sewing, computer technology and arts and crafts.
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