Photo: Josie receives gift of appreciation from her Russian-speaking Home Connect learners.
From teaching youth in Russia to teaching older adults in the Bay Area, Josie Boyle followed an eclectic path to CTN. The midwestern native attended St. Olaf College in Minnesota where she studied Russian and Biology. She quickly fell in love with the Russian language, culture, and literature — leading her to complete a master’s degree in Russian. After graduating, Josie spent two years teaching children and teenagers in Moscow. When Josie made her way back to the States in 2019, she started looking for a job in the Bay Area that could utilize her Russian skills.
Drawn to CTN for its focus on working with people of diverse backgrounds and languages, Josie started as a bilingual digital literacy instructor about two years ago. This was early 2020, right before the pandemic hit. When CTN shifted to virtual training shortly after her start date, Josie jumped right in to training older adults through the Home Connect program.
“I think Home Connect is extremely rewarding because you get to build a one-on-one relationship,” she reflects. Josie has stayed in contact with many of her former learners after they’ve completed their training. One learner, Mary, lacked any sort of device before joining the program and had trouble leaving the house due to health issues. With Josie’s patient instruction and help, Mary is now very active online — sending emails to friends, connecting with church services, and even dabbling in online shopping.
“There are a lot of people that might have kids or grandkids that want to help them out with certain things, but there are some people who just don’t have anybody,” Josie says. “It’s so nice to kind of be able to fill in and be that for people who don’t have family members nearby to help.”
Although Josie continues to provide direct training, she has since become a program manager. This entails overseeing several partnerships, developing curricula, and coordinating courses at our partner sites. Reflecting on her first time studying abroad, Josie recalls just how difficult it can be to navigate a culture when you lack an understanding of the language. Digital tools — like maps and translation apps — are extremely helpful in participating in everyday life. Now that Josie works with older adults who don’t speak English as their first language, she is especially motivated to help them feel more comfortable using tech.
“It’s easy to take a lot of things for granted if you’ve grown up using that technology,” Josie reflects. “When you get to talk to older adults or even some younger adults who just haven’t had access, they’re just so cut off. Then throw in other factors, like isolation and physical limitations … It’s cool to be able to help give people access to what’s become such a core necessity.”
We say it often, but never enough; CTN works with some incredible humans. Thank you, Josie, for all your dedication and support in achieving our mission to transform lives through digital literacy!