Today was the last day of the PALETTE in Motion program. We had our showcase event where we choreographed a dance incorporating the difference dance elements that we have learned together throughout the movement art classes. It was amazing to see how much my group has learned together through these dance sessions. I remembered in the first movement art class, we were unfamiliar with how our bodies moved. Each movement required thought and the motions were uncertain and less defined. Today, however, as we slowly pieced together our dance, I can see that our movements were more spontaneous but yet more certain and confident. Not only were we more familiar with our own body movements, but we were also more familiar with each other and how our bodies moved together. Because of this understanding and comfort with each other, we were able to communicate with each other using nonverbal cues throughout the dance as we transitioned almost seamlessly from one dance segment to the next. In the end, when we showcased our dance to everyone, I felt like we were not only performing our dance to everyone but we were also showcasing our relationship with each other through these different dance movements.
It has been such an incredible journey this semester getting to know the PALs, especially my PAL Beverly. Beverly told me today that she retired a few years ago, but she is still so actively involved in our community that her grandson jokes that she has not retired yet. Beverly taught me that aging is not something to be feared but something to embrace in the future. Age is only a number; it does not confine us nor does it define who we are as a person. Instead, it’s our actions and attitudes that determine who we are and who want to be in the future as we age. I will take my newfound understanding of ageism with me and apply it to myself as well as my professional practice.
Yvonne Zhang, graduate student in Pharmacy
I am not going to lie, I was an ageist before this class. Even walking into the first class, I was skeptical about how it was going to go. I was pleasantly surprised. Working with the senior volunteers these past few weeks has definitely opened up my eyes to a lot of things. It has been so interesting to see the differences between the student and the senior volunteers. During the first class, it was apparent that the professional students were extremely self conscious but most of the senior volunteers were not shy or afraid to experiment with the different dance motions. It has been so fun watching everyone grow more and more comfortable week by week. Sharon, my PAL, has so much spunk. Most of the senior volunteers have so much more movement in them than I thought possible. A lot of people underestimate the abilities of seniors, especially when they see a walker. But, this past weekend, a PAL with a walker performed a beautiful duet with one of the pharmacy students. It was amazing to see how someone who I thought was going to have so little movement create something so beautiful.
Attending this class has definitely eliminated any fear that I may have had about aging. The fact that all of the older PALs have made it clear that you can age beautifully and you learn so much along the way is inspiring. I never saw myself being friends with any of the PALs really but I have a dinner date planned with Alice and Sharon this Friday. Overall, I am so grateful that I was given and took this opportunity to work with all the PALs in the PALETTE program.
Shivangi Bhatt, graduate student in Pharmacy
Today, we had a cultural outing at the VMFA. We were split up into two groups, those who have been there before and those who have not been. My PAL, Shirley and I have both been to VMFA, so we went with the group that would get a more in-depth view of artistic style over the centuries. It was fascinating because the concept of art is organic, it continues to change over time; however, the concept of ageism is still present in art. Even the tour guide said that those who are older do not appreciate modern day or 20th century art because it isn’t “real.” It is interesting how ageist stereotypes even exist in art.
The tour guide gave excellent insight on how art has evolved ofrom the 1500’s up until today. Techniques such as bright colors, size of the main object, and darkness remained the same between all of the photos in order to draw your eyes to certain points in the painting. Artistic style changed over the centuries in regards to depth of paintings, the focus, and the type of painting. My PAL and I noticed many of these aspects, but we both agreed that we needed more time than a one hour tour to truly notice and appreciate art. Both of us agreed that there was something about “older art” that is astounding and there is nothing like it. In regards to modern art, we both don’t understand it as much as we do with “older art,” but we agree that it all depends on the person and what their perception of “art” is. We both loved being at the VMFA and hope that there can be more time to appreciate all the pieces, both old and new.
Allyson Batoy, graduate student in Pharmacy
Today I met my PAL, Georgie, and her husband Gil. I was excited, but so nervous about meeting my PAL. What if we didn’t have anything to talk about? What if we didn’t click? What were they going to be like? All of these questions were running through my head as I first stepped into the community room at the JCC. After a quick look around, I found my name tag, on the table, next to my PAL. The moment I saw her welcoming smile, I knew I had been worrying for no reason. Georgie is absolutely amazing; we were able to talk about several things that we are both interested in. Who would have thought that my PAL would love young adult novels as much as I do, or that she grew up just blocks from where I live now? I loved listening to her tell me about her family or what her and her husband do in their spare time, especially because I’m more of a listener and not much of a talker. And now I have several titles and authors to look up before I meet Georgie again in February!
In our conversation today, one thing that that stood out to me was when we were discussing the programs that different community centers such as the YMCA have; Georgie said “I don’t understand why they have all these programs for kids, but so little for adults”. It was such a simple statement about how she identified herself. She said “adult”, where as I probably would have said “older adult” or “senior” programs. And that’s exactly what she is: an adult, just as the rest of us are. From those six seconds I realized how much aging stereotypes and ageism affect us without even realizing it. I know it will take time for me to break down these barriers that society has placed in my mind against age, but in the meantime I will learn about the beauty of growing and all that life has to offer from such a genuine person as my PAL, Georgie.
Thinking back, it was unnecessary for me to have been worried about meeting my PAL.
Zaneera Hassan, third year graduate student in the VCU School of Pharmacy