Communities we work with | Digital Mentoring | Insights

Lan Ngoc Nguyen

With the help of his digital mentors, Mr Lan now uses a wide range of technology that allows him to get around Melbourne.

By cassandrastrakosch · 19/09/2019

Mr Lan Ngoc Nguyen was a teacher in Vietnam and migrated to Australia in 2006 to reunite with his children. A lifelong learner, Mr Lan was eager to find a group in Melbourne where he could continue studying and gaining new skills.

“I used to worry about my new life here as I arrived at a very late age of 64 years old and my English was very poor. I was feeling homesick until I joined the Indochinese Elderly Refugees Association. There is a strong sense of community here and now I’m taking English classes and computer classes in my native language of Vietnamese.”

Indochinese Elderly Refugees Association (IERA) is a multi-service organisation that helps older people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds preserve and promote their cultural heritage.

Since joining, Mr Lan has made valiant efforts to get to grips with a wide range of technology, from touch screens and keyboards, to messaging apps and online shopping.

“I know that if people want to communicate with each other and the world around them, you need to know how to use technology. Especially to those who do not know English, using Google Translate helps us reach what we want easily.”

After mastering the basics on the desktop computers provided by the centre, Mr Lan humbly brought his printer all the way from his home to learn about wireless printer setup and how to print documents.

“I was very interested in printing and I always say, ‘Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.’ I like to learn thoroughly, so I brought my printer on the train with me for the mentors to teach me how to use it.”

Mr Lan uses technology to keep in touch with relatives in both Vietnam and Australia, and has now reconnected with distant family members.

“At first I didn’t want to use Facebook or any social media. But since I’ve made a profile on Facebook, I’ve been able to search for and connect with family members who I’ve never met before. And now I can keep in better contact with my grandchildren.”

Mr Lan’s passion inspires his classmates and digital mentors every day and says his age isn’t getting in the way of all the things he looks forward to learning online. Mr Lan hasn’t missed a class.

“Thanks to the patience and passion of the IERA tutors for helping older people like us. I am and will continue to conquer the information technology journey.”