In today’s class, we worked on sewing the printed fabrics we had made last time into asunglasses case. In the fiber workshop, our classes are always in a relaxed and quiet atmosphere,and it’s been a good opportunity to enjoy each other’s presence. Sewing was not my forte so it took me a long time to begin to get the hang of it, but it was great seeing how comfortable my PAL Tanya was with sewing, and the different tidbits of more advanced sewing information that she had to share with us. It was also great hearing stories from Tanya about her week, such as how much fun she had when 4th graders came to visit the JCC and eat lunch with them. She is incredibly active and has so many stories of her experiences and travels to share with us. In addition, being able to sit around and chat with the other PALS has been a fantastic experience. It’s been amazing to hear about the new things they’re all trying, and one of the PALS at my table mentioned her interest in learning a new language. Hearing these stories has also given me a lot of thought in considering my future experience with aging. It’s something we will all go through, and I hope to be able to keep these stories and experiences in mind to remind me there are always ways to remain engaged and active with the outside world. With my own aging experience then, I am looking forward to the new experiences and opportunities awaiting me.
Tiffany Lee, graduate student in Pharmacy
Today in the Visual Arts Center, my PAL Alice and I worked on linocut printing, a process that involves carving a relief into linoleum and using ink to transfer the design to paper. Observing each others’ designs afforded me the opportunity to learn more about Alice and what inspires her, and the activity created a relaxed environment where we were able to talk amongst ourselves as we etched. Although it is early in the program, I already feel quite comfortable with Alice. She makes it easy – as she is forthcoming about her hobbies and demonstrates an interest in mine as well. My past experiences with the senior population include caring for my late grandfather and caring for patients at VCU Health. Working with Alice, it’s refreshing and unlike anything I’ve ever experienced (or expected) to relate to Alice not as a granddaughter or caretaker, but as a friend.
My grandfather was always introverted, but his aging experience caused him to withdraw even further from the external world. Alice has shown me that aging does not necessarily equate to “loss.” She is an active member of the JCC gym, attends hip hop classes regularly, and (I was so excited to find out) has tried yoga! Not only that, but she finds intellectual stimulation through trivia and connects with her community at church and the JCC. Undoubtedly, everyone has their own unique experience of aging. What I am learning through PALETTE and my PAL is that my own experience can be one of continued growth and optimism.
Rachel Erickson, graduate student in Physical Therapy
Today I met my PAL for the very first time. After speaking with her I learned that she has a daughter in Australia that she visits once a year and that she has traveled a lot her whole life. What surprised me is that I found out she is a nurse. Because she is older than me, I didn’t actually think she would still be able to be employed. I learned that even I have stereotypes ingrained in my brain that need to be changed. Just because people are older, it doesn’t mean they sit at home all day.
I really enjoyed this intergenerational program because it has already taught me so much in one day. It was a bit of a challenge at first because I don’t have grandparents and it was nice to be able to sit down with someone older than me, full of wisdom and stories. She has hearing aids but laughed about it and it didn’t bother her if she didn’t hear something right away. She is funny and witty, I enjoyed myself with her and can’t wait to meet up with her again next week.
Suzy Tavakoli, graduate student in Pharmacy
Getting to know Ann is something I will always be grateful for. She has taught me so much about what it means to live each moment and to really make the most of today. Her positive attitude and bright nature continually rub off on me, and I always leave each class with a huge smile on my face, ready to take on anything. Ann continues to inspire me every day, and I know now that it is very possible to live a fulfilling and independent life, no matter your age.
As today was our last time with one another, I decided to bring a gift for Ann. I brought her a candle as well as a scarf. She loved both and even asked me to put the scarf on her. I was assuming she meant that she wanted me to tie it around her neck, but she quickly told me, “No! I want it like how you have it!” I proceeded to wrap the scarf neatly around her head, similar to how I wear mine. The fact that Ann was so keen to try the headscarf spoke volumes to me. It is evident that we have formed a special friendship over the course of the program, one that transcends any potential religious or age barriers. This experience with the PALETTE program has been absolutely wonderful and I am really glad to have participated.
Mariam Abuagla, graduate student in Pharmacy
Today was the last day of the PALETTE program. Bob and I actually had more conversation than we’ve had since day one. This is probably because we realized that we hadn’t gotten to know each other as well as we would have liked to. We started the day with print making, and in the middle of that we got to do the mirror painting! Printmaking was nice, but I absolutely loved the miror painting. I used a small brush and Bob used a large one, so on my side of the board it looked really cool because my lines had a back drop pretty much. He and I both laughed a lot at this because the board was filled with paint already so we were trying to fill in the blank areas as well as keep track of where we were! He told me I was good at keeping up with him! I appreciated that he said that because a lot of people would assume an older adult would need to keep up with the younger adult, but he did not cut himself short and I was proud of that.
I had a wonderful experience making art with my PAL Bob, he was definitely an interesting person and he and I both share some of the same qaulities so I am glad we got matched up. He has a young attitude and I feel like he had the exact same personality when he was in high school or college. I will miss sharing moments like this with him because I do not get to spend time with my grandparents so he was sort of filling that void in my life.