Microsoft is fortunate to have the opportunity to touch the lives of many people over the years. By helping people achieve their goals, our hope is that their story will inspire others to realize their potential for great things.|
|Keen Learner Won't Let Age Slow Her Down|
Yako Chau Yuk-ha
72-year-old Graduate of YMCA CTLC Course
Madame Chau, an energetic 72-year old, has never stopped learning. For many years she has been a shining example showing that people of all ages have the ability to learn and serve others.
At a ripe old age, she sat the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination (HKCEE) in 1989 and then the Hong Kong Advanced Level Examination (HKAL) in 2004, after ten years of study. Still, she had not experienced the power of computer technology until 2006. That was when she joined one of the YMCA College of Careers' Microsoft® - sponsored computer courses. She learnt basic computing skills, including how to send and receive e-mail, use popular software such as Word and Excel®, and browse Web sites for information.
"Learning about computers is not a privilege of youth. We elderly can also benefit. I have already learnt many computer skills and I have become good at playing computer games and using e-mail to keep in touch with my family overseas," she said.
Although unable to walk, Madam Chau has served as a volunteer for many years, providing clerical services for charities. Her new technical skills now prove indispensable in her work for the Shatin Government Evening Secondary School Alumni Association.
True to her belief that learning is a lifelong adventure, Madam Chau is keen to learn more about computers.
|Teen Turns Over a New Leaf|
Project Sounds of Silence Golden Award Winner
As a young teen, Sam got into trouble with the law. His arrest for possession of an offensive weapon marked the lowest point in his life.
'My mother slapped my face when she knew what I had done. Her disappointment and sadness caused me so much pain; I realized then that I was on the wrong path and needed to change my life. But I had no job and no qualifications or skills,' Sam said.
Yuen Man and Kai Wai live with their parents, who are very protective and supportive. while the two appreciate being looked after, they also want to be treated like adults, to be in charge of their own destiny.
Just when Sam felt hopeless, his family and his mentor from the Superintendent's Discretion Scheme encouraged him to join the Project Sounds of Silence (SOS). It gives troubled young people training and development opportunities to help them find their place as confident and productive members of society.
Organized by the Superintendent's Discretion Scheme, the SOS supports young people through mentoring and a range of activities and free training programs, including computer training courses sponsored by Microsoft®. Supporting the SOS is just one of the ways the company fulfils its long-held commitment to helping people realize their potential. By providing professional tutors, software, and computers Microsoft can play a part in giving troubled teens a second chance. Microsoft also provides sponsorship so that gifted participants of the SOS can sit for professional qualifications.
Sam joined SOS and enrolled in a computer training course which otherwise would have been too expensive for him. His aim is to become a computer animation master so that he can repay his mother's love and care.
Sam is determined to turn his life around. 'We must all bear responsibility for our mistakes. I will continue to work hard to show that I have changed,' he said.
Sam was presented with a Project Sounds of Silence golden award in recognition of his outstanding effort. Sam and his family, as well as his mentor from the Superintendent's Discretion Scheme, are very glad that he now has a chance to realize his potential and regain the bright future that once appeared lost.
|Disability Not a Hindrance to Learning|
Wu Yuen Man / Chau Ka Wai
Mild mentally disabled youngsters
Wu Yuen Man (19) and Chau Kai Wai (24), students at Princess Alexandra Red Cross Residential School, are true inspirations to their peers, because their mild mental disability is no obstacle to the pursuit of their common passion - learning.
Shy and unassuming Yuen Man had a simple dream, "I wanted to find new ways of creatively expressing myself," she said, referring to her talent for drawing. Kai Wai, on the other hand, wanted something more concrete, "I would like to find a job, be productive and contribute to my community".
Yuen Man and Kai Wai live with their parents, who are very protective and supportive. While the two appreciate being looked after, they also want to be treated like adults, to be in charge of their own destiny.
Opportunity came on March 2005 via the Microsoft-sponsored Cyber S.P.O.T. Project. The Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups, together with Caritas Hong Kong invited these young people to join the Home-Based Training and Support Service held at the (HKFYG) Kwai Fong Integrated Youth Service Center. They received training in basic computing skills and how to use common software from students who signed up for the "HKFYG Cyber Volunteer Net" train-the-trainer program. The Cyber S.P.O.T. Project, launched in 2004 with sponsorship from Microsoft Unlimited Potential, has since provided IT training to more than 650 beneficiaries in the Kwai Fong area.
Yuen Man and Kai Wai took the challenge and in less than six months, mastered basic computer skills such as Internet access, word processing, Chinese Input, using Microsoft® Paint® and Microsoft FrontPage® programs. Kai Wai was able to compose his own curriculum vitae (CV) and write to prospective employers. He has since found a job with a courier company. "With my new skills, I became more confident and able to prove to my employer that I am capable of doing what any other employee can do."
Yuen Man, on the other hand, used her newly acquired skills to design e-cards and drawings, giving full expression to her creativity.
She is thankful for having discovered another means of polishing her artistic talent. "Through this initiative, I have learned to design e-cards and send them to my friends and family. This is the start; who knows, I may be able to fulfill my dream of becoming an artist one day."
|Siblings Discover the Joy of Mentorship|
Yuki Lo/Queenie Lo /Natalie Lo
Yuki, (19), Queenie (17) and Natalie (14) are three sisters with a mission: they devote their time out of school to help others learn computer skills.
Inspiration came from Yuki, the eldest of the three, and a registered member of the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups (HKFYG). She encouraged her two younger siblings to join HKFYG Cyber Volunteer Net and undertake computer training on basic word processing, email and multimedia design in a Community-based Technology and Learning Center (CTLC), sponsored by Microsoft in cooperation with HKFYG.
"We didn't do it for ourselves, we did it because we want to be able to help others," said Natalie.
"Helping others" means reaching out to the housing estate where primary school students, parents and senior citizens that wanted to learn computing skills. "We believe that, like any one of us, older people are excited about computers, especially about being able to communicate with friends and families away from Hong Kong," said Yuki. "If we show them how learning can be fun and easy, we are sure they'll be encouraged to learn."
Queenie said, "The 'train-the-trainer' program and the Microsoft tools helped us a lot in terms of designing lessons that make computing lessons easy and fun for learners of all ages. They enable us to do more for more people."
"It's really encouraging to see the uncles, aunts, grandmas and grandpas in our estate wanting to learn from us. They all enjoyed the training and didn't mind learning from someone younger than them," said Natalie.
The two started conducting computer skills training in their estate, and the training was well-received by parents and senior citizens who were eager to learn from their "little teachers." Queenie and Natalie are the youngest among "train the trainee' youth volunteers, who are normally in their 20s.
Yuki, in turn, is inspired by her younger sisters and is now looking to get more involved in other volunteer training programs. "With our training and each other's support, we three can really make a difference in the lives of people; particularly senior citizens!"
|Three Youth Volunteers Discover Joy in Designing Teaching Materials|
Gary Siu/ Liza Fung/Candy Tong
Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education (IVE) Students
Gary, Liza and Candy, students at the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education (IVE), have a deep respect for the elderly. Thus, when the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups (HKFYG) looked for youngsters to design interactive computer training program for senior citizens, they gladly volunteered and signed up to join "HKFYG Cyber Volunteer Net."
Partnering with Microsoft to develop a Community-based Technology and Learning Center (CTLC), HKFYG offered computer courses for the volunteers. They joined a Microsoft Mobile Classroom, which was created to serve the elderly in the Shatin neighborhood.
The volunteers custom-made a 20-minute CD, comprising basic computer lessons on subjects such as Internet access, Microsoft Paint and games. Gary, Liza and Candy, with the help of other team members, took care of everything from content design to CD distribution, using Microsoft Movie Maker.
"The training program helped us hone our skills in video shooting, editing, dubbing and graphics, something all of us are really interested in," said Gary.
"We are thankful for the training and support offered by HKFYG and Microsoft. They see our sincerity and willingness to learn, and made us part of the team doing something meaningful for society," Liza added.
The group has distributed CDs and instructional materials in eight elderly homes in Shatin and Kwai Chung. To date 40 senior citizens have benefited from the program. They are now planning to create customized CDs for Hong Kong's minority groups.
"At the end of the day it pays to have people supporting you, offering you resources and inspiration to reach out to others. Through Cyber S.P.OT. project, we have learned the real meaning of empowerment. That is, to empower ourselves that we may empower others in return," Candy said.
|Microsoft Hong Kong Limited's involvement in Oxfam Trailwalker|
Every year, Oxfam Trailwalker attracts many participants to play their part in helping the disadvantaged worldwide, including Africa, China and Hong Kong. On November 11 to 13, 2005, two teams from Microsoft Hong Kong Limited (MSHK) displayed their passion for helping others actively by raising more than HK$50,000 for finishing the 100-kilometer course.
The two teams, named "Dear Trailwalker" and "I Love U MacLehose", comprising eight MSHK staff, ranked 342 and 395 respectively among a total of 942 teams representing over 3,200 participants. The funds raised will be used to help disadvantaged people in Hong Kong, as well as support development projects and emergency relief programs in Asia and Africa.
In demonstrating the Microsoft is a global company yet committed to local society, Microsoft Hong Kong has launched an employee volunteer program to encourage staff to join any volunteer work and enjoy in return 2 days of off duty at maximum per annual.
|Constructing a new career through technology|
Twenty-four-year old Kelvin Shum understands the importance of education over immediate monetary gain; he longs to improve himself and develop stronger competency. To achieve the goals, he gave up a high-paying job and dedicated his time to study computer knowledge. The new job he got after the study only pays a fraction of his previous salary, but Kelvin is nonetheless more thrilled in the new job. He knows by making this move, he can have a more fulfilling and exciting life in the long run.
Kelvin began working as a construction worker at the young age of 15, right after graduating Form 3. When business was good, he could earn more than $1,000 a day and over $20,000 a month - something definitively attractive for a youth. However, the high pay came at a price: the job is laborious and workers were constantly exposed under harsh weather. Moreover, it was unstable; Kelvin was once out of job for nearly a year due to depressing market situation.
Kelvin began to think about his future. Did he want to live the rest of his life as a construction worker? Looking at his co-workers who were approaching middle age and did not seem to be able to make a career change due to low education/ lack of other skills, Kelvin realized he didn't want to be doing the same job when he turned 50. He had to create a new future for himself. He then quit his job and went back to school, where he learnt about computer software such as Word and FrontPage.
Since 2003, the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups (HKFYG) has partnered with Microsoft Hong Kong to provide free IT training courses to young people with low education and minimal work experience. Practical courses such as Excel, Access, PowerPoint and Movie Maker aptly equip them with the suitable skills to enhance their competitiveness in the recovering economy and to start a new career. Microsoft Hong Kong invested $15.6 million worth of resources in this project. So far 1,000 people have finished their training. The number of learning centers will be increased to 17 with a goal of training 50,000 young people by 2007.
Upon completion of his training, Kelvin found a job as a clerical worker. The job was a great boost to his self-confidence and, in a short period of 6 months, he was able to find another job as project assistant at a CTLC. Kelvin, who used be the one receiving help, now helps other young people to start new directions in their lives.
While immensely enjoying his new life, Kelvin realizes that he still has a lot to learn. After going through these changes he has come to truly understand the saying "Knowledge is Power". Kelvin's self-improvement does not stop here, he is determined to continue to study and broaden his knowledge.
|Blind Author Writes Message of Hope|
Christina Wong's story is truly one for the books. Having contacted German measles as an infant, she had to undertake a series of eye operations and treatments to save her dwindling eyesight. At the age of eight, she was declared clinically blind.|
But losing her eyesight didn't mar her spirit. Gifted with a strong will and a loving family to support her, she builds up the determination to pursue her dream of studying abroad and eventually writing a book. "My own personal battles build within a desire to write a book about hope. I knew back then that I would like to be a novelist," she said.
Christina's dreams have come true. She managed to complete a two-year study at St. Edmunds School for the Blind in Australia. Coming back to Hong Kong, she wrote her first novel using Easy Dots, a Cantonese-Braille input software developed by Microsoft Hong Kong Limited.
The book is aptly called "If You Believe in Fairy Tales", a story of a young leukemia patient who pursued her dream of becoming an artist with the help of a psychologist. Christina said the book speaks a lot about her own experience and how technology has empowered her to pursue her dreams.
Christina's tale of personal triumph has now been published, circulated and is now read by people who, like her, could just as well rise above their challenges and write their own fairy tales.
|Youth Center Program Assistant Dreams Big|
Dream doesn't end for 17 year-old Ng Wai-chit, a program assistant in a youth center for both locals and expatriates. "I want to pursue higher education and I am working hard to pursue that goal, I don't care how long it takes," said Ng, a Form 3 graduate.|
In June 2004, Ng undertook a 20-hour free IT training program, sponsored by Microsoft Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups (HKFYG) in their community training and learning center in Tsuen Wan, where he was taught Microsoft Office including Word, Excel and PowerPoint. "Through the training, I found myself being more confident to attain new IT skills and can use these skills to learn more, achieve more," Ng said.
Ng, who joined the training with 10 other colleagues at the community center, said the program made him more efficient in his job which requires data entry, member information management, designing posters and other promotional items for events. "I learned to type faster in both English and Chinese and I become more efficient in using Office applications," he said.
With enhanced IT skills, Ng is encouraged to learn more. "I would like to complete Form 5 or higher (education level). I am bent on building a career in IT and share with others what I have learned," he said.
|Young IT Administrator Enhances Skills to Give Back to the Community|
Twenty-one-year old Kenji Yuen is gifted with an unquenchable thirst for learning. Even if his formal schooling ended three years ago when he completed Form 5, he welcomes every opportunity to enrich his knowledge, especially in IT, which is closest to his heart.|
Being an IT administrator at a local kindergarten, and managing its server infrastructure and over 30 desktops, Yuen also enrolled in a distance learning program and took IT lessons when he got home from work. "It takes me four years to complete this distance learning program, but I'm getting there," said Yuen who sees the course as his passport to a university education and/or a teaching job.
With the urging from one of his friends, Yuen last year enrolled in the free MicrosoftR MCSE training program offered by Microsoft Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups (HKFYG). "This training course helps me a lot at my workplace. It increases my productivity and enhances my skills in a more practical way, especially in terms of networking. I hope to complete the other IT training programs offered by Microsoft through HKFYG in the near future," Yuen said.
Yuen believes in giving back what he was given to the community. Having inspired by the course and found interest in networking recently, Yuen put up a Web site called mcplace.com, where he hosts a forum in Microsoft technology. "I use the Web site to encourage people to enhance their IT skills," he said.
Meeting like-minded people who eventually becomes his friends is rewarding, but Yuen said the Web site is not built for IT networking alone. "I used the site to raise funds for the poor people in China. Most of us are not aware how our little donation could go a long way in helping the less fortunate. My Web site reaches out to people who have the capacity and resources to share with the underprivileged," he said.
|A Passion to Train and Teach|
Staff in Community Center
Twenty one-year-old Arif Abbas has a soft spot for the Hong Kong minority group. A resident of Hong Kong since 1990, Abbas, whose family hails from Pakistan, has set out to join programs that provide assistance to the Hong Kong minority.|
After completing Form 5 at the Delia Memorial School (Hip Wo), Abbas took up a basic word processing course through the government Youth Pre-employment Training Program. Recently, Abbas took an IT training course sponsored by Microsoft in which he obtained a computer training certificate presented by Caritas. During this course, Abbas learned more advanced computer skills such as Microsoft PowerPoint, FrontPage and Access.
Abbas, as a volunteer, used the skills he learned from a CTLC project sponsored by Microsoft in cooperation with Caritas Hong Kong, to teach computer skills for the minority group. "It was a great privilege to enhance my IT skills and share it with others. Learning IT has enriched my life and it has given me a better future. That is why I want to help train others so that they can use their IT knowledge for personal advancement as well."
Abbas' primary task is to offer basic computing and Internet surfing tutorials, but he is also equipped to teach advanced computer skills, such as Web page and PowerPoint design.
Abbas said he is looking to enroll in a hospitality-related course at the The Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education (IVE). "My IT skills would be a big plus when I join the hospitality industry in the future."
|IT Empowerment ¡V A Pakistani Homemaker's Story|
Middle-aged Pakistani homemaker, Farzana Kaussar, was born in a culture that relegates women to the role of homemaker and mother, but she is not complaining. Having lived in Hong Kong for over seven years and taken care of two children, ages five and six, she has learned to put her children's needs ahead of her own. "Our role as women is to see to it that our families are taken care. I do not mind putting my family first, but perhaps, like any other woman, I too desire to learn new skills. It's just a question of where and how," Farzana said.|
Farzana's desire for self-improvement prompted her to sign up for some courses offered at the Caritas Community Center (Tsuen Wan), such as English course.
When Farzana heard about the CTLC program jointly sponsored by Microsoft and Caritas, she signed up immediately for a basic computer literacy course on PC operation, Internet surfing and MSN Instant Messaging. Faranza has never touched a computer in her life but she was happily browsing the Internet, writing emails and chatting with family and friends in Pakistan after several hours in the course.
"Being a first time computer user, I was amazed at the many wonderful things you can do with technology. I learned to use the keyboard and got to communicate with my friends and relatives in Pakistan via email and instant messaging - things I was completely ignorant of prior to joining the course. I never thought I could learn computer skills so easily. I am truly grateful for Microsoft and Caritas for having provided opportunities for women like me to learn new skills and improve themselves."
Farzana said her ultimate goal is to teach her kids computer skills. "If I can do it, how hard can it be for my children? I am excited to share with them everything that I've learned with technology."
|Career in digital media design within reach|
Vocational Graphics Designer
After finishing secondary school, 21-year-old Jasper Wai enrolled in a digital media course at the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education. "I want to be a graphics designer and I am taking it one step at a time," says Jasper.|
Jasper got a temporary job at the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Group (HKFYG) as a "Positive Life Ambassador" and was assigned the task to design promotional materials for the organization. Her most challenging job to date was designing the Web site for Cyber S.P.O.T. Tsuen Wan, the first community and technology learning center (CTLC) set up by HKFYG and Microsoft.
"This is a chance for me to brush up on my skills in digital media design. I am glad the HKFYG and Microsoft actually walk the talk, and give young people the opportunity to polish their skills in areas that they find interest in," says Jasper, who also volunteered to edit the video presentation used for the launch of the CTLC in October, 2003.
Jasper says she is taking advantage of the professional training program offered free of charge by HKFYG. "The Microsoft professional training course will definitely help me fulfill my dream of becoming a program designer. I am forever grateful to HKFYG and Microsoft for offering this opportunity," says Jasper.
|Stepping stone to bigger dreams|
20 year-old Andy Yeung has tried his luck as a property agent, but found that his heart is not into it. "I want to be a fireman or be involved in a job that is related to sports such as a football trainer," he says. Andy knows, however, that these jobs require formal training and he hasn't got the funds for it.|
A temporary job as "Positive Life Ambassador" at the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups (HKFYG) in early 2003 had Andy working on a video clip involving two members of the Hong Kong Football Team, which further fuelled his dream of being involved in sports development.
The following month, Andy found himself helping out at the Cyber S.P.O.T., the first community technology and learning center (CTLC) jointly established by HKFYG and Microsoft in Hong Kong. It was there that Andy heard and got interested in its free IT training program.
Having earlier taken basic word processing training course through the Hong Kong Youth Pre-employment Training Program, Andy signed up for a course on how to design Web pages using Microsoft FrontPage. "Training courses such as these are a big help to young people like me who do not have the funds for paid training courses. Underprivileged Hong Kong youths are lucky to have access to IT learning that can serve as foundation for higher learning in the future," adds Andy.
Andy says he is currently saving money to take up courses at the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education and as you can probably guess, it will be related to sports.
|Writer at heart finds yet another reason to learn|
Au Yuen-han's daughter-in-law didn't know she was up for a big surprise when she started a rudimentary web site on which to post Au's journals because Au, who is a writer at heart, took matters into her own hands and started jazzing up the Web site herself.|
Soon the 65 year-old grandmother was building animated graphics to put on her Web sites, and the quality was no lower than young web designers.
For Au, animation makes Web sites more impressive. She was, in fact, a winner of a Web site design competition launched by the Cyber Senior Network Development (CSNDA) in October, 2003. Winning the award encouraged Au to learn more.
"I am glad that Cyber Senior Network Development Association and Microsoft Hong Kong are organizing training courses for senior citizens. We may not be able to learn as fast as younger people, but we are definitely as diligent and willing to learn," says Au, who reads books on Web site design in her spare time and has a private tutor who teaches her and her friends basic and advanced computer skills.
Today, a volunteer in Microsoft PowerPoint e-Card design training course sponsored by CSNDA and Microsoft, Au finds pleasure teaching older people to develop IT skills. Teaching, it seems, has become yet another favorite preoccupation of this indefatigable lady.
|Still in IT at 87|
Wong Wai-chiu (Uncle Chiu)
Lifelong learning knows no bounds and for 87 year-old amateur photographer, Wong Wai-chiu, or Uncle Chiu, every day is still a day of learning and discovery. His most recent pet project: making e-Cards with Microsoft PowerPoint!|
Uncle Chiu is the oldest of 16 award winners in the recent e-Card design exhibition hosted by Cyber Senior Network Development Association (CSNDA) and Microsoft Hong Kong in October 2003. Beating hundreds of senior citizens who participated in the event, Uncle Chiu drew inspiration from his grandchildren who live in Canada and with whom he constantly communicates--using the computer!
In fact, it was his English-speaking grandchildren who made him decided to learn to use the computer, especially PowerPoint and photo editing programs, three years ago. He has also recently joined the online courses offered at the Cyber Senior Web site and got hooked.
Nowadays, Uncle Chiu does not just surf the Net like a pro, he also repairs and upgrades his computer. To his delight, using computers has helped him correct a weak subject from many years ago. "I studied at Wah Yan College and failed the English open test," says Uncle Chiu with a sigh.
Uncle Chiu said learning to use the computer has made him a far happier person. "Learning all about computers certainly widens my horizon. I gained a new set of friends and found something productive to do rather than just sitting there and whiling time away," he said. The biggest benefit, of course, is being able to communicate with his grandchildren. "While I cannot be physically present in Canada to watch my grandchildren grow, I find joy in sending and receiving emails and making them e-Cards from time to time," enthuses Uncle Chiu.
|Overcoming Disability with I.T.|
Program Assistant, Vocational Rehabilitation and Retraining Centre (VRRC), the Hong Kong Society for Rehabilition
Ringo Wong, born with muscular dystrophy with little movement in his hands, is determined to pursue his dreams in computing I.T.. "I found the perfect career advancement opportunity at the Vocational Rehabilitation and Retaining Centre (VRRC) where is offered me training in the latest software such as Office XP and Windows XP. I found the knowledge very practical and useful." say Wong. With the Microsoft's sponsorship, The Hong Kong Society for Rehabilitation has rebuilt its computer facilities at the VRRC so that he disabled can acquire basic computing skills, such as Chinese text input, Internet surfing, homepage design and desktop publishing. The new skills acquired have opened up new career opportunities for the physically impaired. "I am now an active trainer at the centre. It is a wonderful feeling to have when someone turns around and says "Thank you, I can do it!" say Wong. The ease of computing and the improvements in software handling are helping many physically impaired to build new strengths and realize their full potential.|
|Finding His Way to a Technology-Fuelled Future|
Fan Ping Lam
The chance to race around Tai Po Riverside with a Pocket PC supported by a Global Positioning System was too good to miss for Boy Scout Lam.|
Joining the IT Orienteering Program jointly organized by the Scout Association of Hong Kong and Microsoft Hong Kong, Lam and three scouting friends combined their love of the great outdoors with a knack for using computers.
The IT Orienteering Program is an one-day outdoor activity that matched Pocket PC 2002 with locally developed electronic maps and Global Positioning System (GPS) in real time so that members of the Scout Association can leverage their orienteering and map-reading skills with the latest mobile computing devices to discover, explore, learn and communicate.
"I think it's great that technology is being used in more and more ways to make life easier. In a few years time when I finish school, perhaps we will be using computers for everything," Lam said.
Lam, 14 years old, has a home PC that he uses for playing games, browsing the Internet, chatting to friends and doing his homework. Because of this, he was already quite experienced in Microsoft Windows XP.
Now, however, he is even more determined to become a computer expert as he recognizes the increasing importance of technology and the benefit of computer skills.
"I know that computer skills are really important if I want to get a good job when I finish school, and with interesting programs to use, that makes learning more fun," he said.
|On the Road to Career Success|
Finding the first job after leaving school can be a daunting task, but Helen Wong discovered, having a professional IT qualification can give you a tremendous edge.|
Like many school-leavers, Helen had basic IT knowledge. However, she took her skills to a new level by attending a Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) course run by the ITeen Dreams Program that she heard about through the Salvation Army.
Organized by Microsoft Hong Kong in conjunction with five local charitable organizations, the ITeen Dreams Program is a retraining program for unemployed youth that offers a series of high quality computer training classes to improve their competitive edge and employability.
"Taking the Microsoft course really increased my competitive advantage in the job market. Actually, I think IT knowledge is essential to any job these days, as even during interviews I had to prove my understanding of technology." Helen said.
"The program gave me knowledge in resolving technical problems. I polished up my desktop skills and I also learnt how to fix basic server problems. I am more confident at job interviews now and many potential employers are surprised at the knowledge I have on both front-end and back-end issues. Employers now look for multi-skilled staff. I have the advantage over other candidates because I am able to handle both administrative and simple I.T. issues. The knowledge and personal satisfaction gained were invaluable," she added.
|A Treasure Hunt for Joy|
The Spastics Association of Hong Kong
Annie Mo, a member from the Spastics Association of Hong Kong with a perpetual smile that could outshine the sun, never imagined she would become a computer expert, and on a Pocket PC no less. Annie's first contact with the hitherto unreachable world of mobile computing was, oddly enough, in a treasure hunt.|
Microsoft's "Go Tech" community affairs project, a program that tries to empower the handicapped by transferring essential computer skills, recently used the Pocket PC 2002 as a teaching tool to reach 80 disabled and mentally handicapped individuals. To make it fun, they turned the lesson into an innovative outdoors treasure hunt based on orienteering principles.
Held at the CECES Garden Farm in Sai Kung, the Go Tech project's Easter treasure hunt with mobile computing was a fun way for 80 disabled and mentally handicapped people to experience the fun and freedom of Pocket PCs and wireless LAN (based on Wi-Fi or 802.11b standard).
Annie, together with her team mates, learned to use a Pocket PC with a wireless LAN card to find hidden treasure by deciphering multimedia clues on the screens.
A variety of clues, including pictures, mini-movies and snippets of sound, are played on the Pocket PCs, with each clue pointing the way to a check point located in a specific location on the 5-acre farm. Each checkpoint is clearly signposted with the answer and a four-number code. When entered into the Pocket PCs, the codes activate the next clue.
The novelty of operating a mobile computing device for the first time, and the competitive nature of the contest, made for an exciting, rowdy afternoon that saw multiple wheelchairs rapidly traversing the farm as participants raced from one checkpoint to another.
Annie's sunny smile becomes brighter than usual.
|Age not a barrier for Connected Senior|
Lee Kai Man
Hong Kong Senior IT Advocates
As one of the founders of the Hong Kong Senior IT Advocates (HKSITA), eighty-year-old Lee Kai Man is at his most animated when talking about the Internet. You could say he's excited because his life has been transformed by the act of going online. While his initial encounters with using a PC have not been easy, Mr. Lee has come a long way since those first days in 1998 when he struggled to move a cursor with his mouse. "It dawned on me that using a computer is not hard; if you know the alphabet and you can type, you're set. You just need to overcome your fear of the unknown."|
The key motivator for Mr. Lee's use of PCs is his desire to communicate with his son, who has lived in Australia for many years. "I am so excited when I successfully send the first email to my son." "Outlook Express is the program I use most often on my computer, because I send emails to my son daily. Long distance phone calls are too expensive, so we did not use to talk very much when he first left Hong Kong. The tone of my relationship with my son has changed after I discovered electronic mail. It's now so much easier for me to log on and write him emails."
The radical change in their relationship has prompted Mr. Lee to found HKSITA with a small group of fellow senior citizens, driven by his wish to pass on the sense of empowerment from using computers and the Internet.
"I wanted to abolish the myth that old people and the Internet don't go together. We may be old, but we still have a need to communicate and connect. The Internet is an excellent tool to expand our horizons, allowing us to reach out and touch the ones we love, even if they are thousands of miles away."
"I want other people my age to experience the same joy."
|Seeing the Value of Friendship|
Hong Kong Blind Union
John Kwong, a member of the Hong Kong Blind Union, has been blind since he was eight months old. Not being able to see is not an issue throughout his life, although the challenge for him is dealing with the prejudice and preconceptions of people with sight. To cope, John has learned to rely on the personal computer and the Internet, because of his unwavering belief that communication breaks down all barriers.|
"The most important difference that technology has made in my life has been its power to help other people see my point of view, by allowing me to communicate with them, by showing them that I am not different from people who can see. Although I cannot read printed words, I can send emails using Microsoft Outlook, and chat with others using MSN Messenger. As a matter of fact, on the Internet, people don't even realize I'm blind until I tell them."
The power of the Internet has even helped John win much-cherished friendships. For example, a lady he met by accident became more than just an acquaintance, because through online interaction she was able to touch deeper part of John. "After our initial meeting, we began corresponding via email, and meeting in online chat rooms. Over time we developed an intimate friendship and overcame the initial hurdle of her coming to terms with my disability. She later confessed that she had issues with befriending me at first, but our interaction over the Internet gave her time to understand that I'm just like any normal person."
They have maintained their friendship, even occasionally doing voluntary work together. "She has changed her attitude towards blind people, and it couldn't have been possible without the Internet leveling the playing field for us."