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Friday, July 14, 2000

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
At Kuhio Park Terrace Learning Center, Pele Lafaele,
left, works at a computer while Gavin Riley, center,
assists Debbie Taamu.

Kuhio Park residents
bridge ‘digital divide’

Service-learning programs win grants

By Treena Shapiro


Computers opened a whole new world for Darlene Mars of Kuhio Park Terrace.

"I thought I'd be a sales clerk forever, and I didn't want to do that," she said.

Instead Mars, 45, now works as an administrative assistant for the Parents and Children Together Economic Development Center, a job which requires her to employ her database skills. "It really enhanced my employment career."

About two years ago, students from the University of Hawaii-Manoa came to the Kuhio Park Terrace Learning Center for a service-learning project involving one-on-one tutoring in the Learning Center computer lab.

"It was a great contribution to the people over here," Mars said.

But since the service-learning project ended and volunteers at the Learning Center have become involved in other things, residents' computer access has been reduced to eight hours a week.

A new grant from WorldCom (formerly MCI WorldCom) will change that. The two-year, $40,000 grant will allow UH to send more service-learning students to Kuhio Park Terrace. More significantly, a Kuhio Park Terrace resident will be trained on computers and will offer instruction at the computer center.

"The idea is that they are building skills over time, and not only will this person learn, but he passes that knowledge on," said Helenann Lauber, program director of the Kuhio Park Terrace Family Center.

With the same grant, Kapiolani Community College will bring computer education to the Palolo Housing tenants, and Leeward Community College will do the same in Waianae and Waipahu for the YMCA Community in the Schools program.

Bob Franco, social sciences chairman at Kapiolani, said the service-learning projects will be developed in collaboration with the communities to ensure their needs are met.

The goal is to "meet their needs and increase their capabilities," he said. It's all part of bridging the "digital divide," which, in terms of computer literacy, separates the low-income families from their middle- and upper-income counterparts.

At Kuhio Park Terrace, residents previously benefitted from typing tutorials, resume-writing programs, learning how to conduct research and job searches on the Internet and learning programs that could help them get jobs.

Pualeilani Emerson has taken her computer skills into her job with Social Security, used computers to write papers for Hawaii Pacific University courses, uses email to keep in touch with family and friends in other states, makes invitations and flyers for her friends and has developed business cards and conducted Internet research for the clock-decorating business she hopes to start.

While Emerson had used computers before, she said she learned more from the service-learning students. The students and professors helped break through the residents technophobia.

"Some that came never touched a computer before and they were scared," Emerson said. But the service-learning students made the experience fun.

Hawaii’s service-learning
programs will benefit
from $690,000 in grants

Star-Bulletin staff


Hawaii is in line for $689,838 in Learn and Serve America grants from the Corporation for National Service.

U.S. Rep. Patsy Mink said the grants will fund service-learning programs for youth and students at institutions of higher learning, state education agencies, state commissions on national and community service and nonprofit organizations.

Participants serve America by connecting community service with academic learning, personal growth and civic responsibility, she said. Grant amounts are subject to final negotiation between grantees and the Corporation for National Service:

Bullet The Hawaii Commission on National and Community Service will receive $320,000 to fund Regional Service-Learning Centers on each of seven islands.
Bullet The Campus Compact/Office of Research Services of the University of Hawaii will receive $300,000 to provide sub-grants, training and technical assistance to 24 higher-education institutions in Hawaii, Oregon and American Samoa. This grant will help keep Kapiolani Community College as a national leader in service-learning assessment.
Bullet The Hawaii Department of Education will receive $69,838 to assist schools in implementing service learning in as many classrooms as possible and to continue efforts to develop awareness and provide knowledge and training about service learning into the curriculum.

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