Using Technology to Foster Inter-Generational Communication with Andrea Lawrence of MAZii
Tell us about yourself
I was born in Jamaica and raised in Brooklyn, New York. I am also the single mother of two boys.
I’ve had a passion for technology and teaching my entire life and while working as a programmer, I was able to combine the two and pursue one of my goals as an educator. As a New York State-certified Educational Technology Specialist and Curriculum developer, I have created, developed and maintained Learning Technology Programs for the Adult literacy community.
What is MAZii?
MAZii was founded in September 2007 with a mission to engage in and facilitate inter-generational communication through the use of Technology. We train youth (ages 16-24) how to teach technology to senior citizens. Taking its name from the Greek word for together, MAZii believes that community engagement can accelerate digital literacy to promote learning and life-enhancing skills in people of all ages. We do this by offering low-cost or free technology integration classes. Our core values are education, partnership and community development.
What’s the best part and challenging part about running your MAZii?
The best part is, I get to be at the helm of transforming the way generations communicate. I get to speak to people about my ideas and I have a say in all the organization’s projects and partnerships.
There are many challenging aspects especially when it comes to funding. Most people do not see through an inter-generational filter even though it happens daily. Example, something as simple as a mother teaching how to bake a cake to her child, a grandchild sharing his school day activities with grandparents get taken for granted. The challenge is getting people to see why it is important to fund a program that encourages the use of technology as a conduit for those conversations.
What’s your biggest accomplishment since starting MAZii?
I’d have to say the AMBASSADORSHIP Leadership PROGRAM, which is a 12 week leadership course that trains and develops people in the community. Graduates of the program then take on an inter-generational community based project.
What plans or initiatives are you looking forward to?
The world is aging and our goal is to connect one million youth, with one million older adults. We plan to do this with the use of inter-generational projects, partnerships and programs. We are creating leaders in the inter-generational field, and we are creating coalitions with existing inter-generational program leaders similar to myself. I figure if we get the leadership together then we can all work together on a common commitment.
How do you define success?
I define success in 2 ways, tangible and intangible. Tangible results are quantifiable. Intangible results are qualitative. Tangible allows me to see the result of what I set out to accomplish. If I set out to have a semester with 10 Intechies and 15 senior centers and instead had 5 Intechies and 3 Senior centers, while that may still be good, it is not considered a success to me.
Intangible occurs when a senior tells me that they felt disconnected from the world, until they participated in MAZii’s program. Likewise for a younger person, they may say that they were not sure about their future. Once they take part in our program, then they are able to craft a path for their success, by participating in our program.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned regarding success and failure?
The biggest lesson I have learned is being relentless and resilience are your best friends. For instance if there is a breakdown, I am not the failure. There was just a failure to perform. This point of view enables me to take a look at what happened and what was missing that I can improve on. I also learned that if a project does not succeed as I have planned, I should look at what did worked, take that and try again.
In what way has your Caribbean Culture Contributed to your success? Or Helped you handle failure?
Being Jamaican has contributed to my success immensely. My work ethic comes from my parents and environment. We are known as hard workers, and we do it with a knitted brow for concentration and a smile for ease. As a social entrepreneur, it is the value of hard work, education, endurance and resilience that keeps me on my path.