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 during PALETTE in Motion we explored expansion and compression. We moved individually to discover how expansion and compression can articulate the body, and moved in groups to discover how these concepts can be applied spatially. As always, dancing served as a unifying component of PALETTE in Motion, allowing us to laugh and step out of our comfort zones in a room full of smiles. I feel that the intergenerational nature of this program has shown me how beautifully unique people are at every age. Each person brings to the room their own experiences, fears, and self-consciousness; but also their own openness, energy, and encouragement, which allow the space to fill with positivity.
I had an interesting discussion with my PAL after class about the role of gender in dancing. This PAL had always viewed dancing and intuition as “feminine,” and saw masculinity as being defined by logic and order. My PAL said that the class is revealing to them how dancing from intuition can be genderless (just as I am discovering it is ageless), and that if we ask our minds to let go of preconceived notions, we can all move together as human beings. I find this reflection to be a valuable representation of my experience here as well. PALETTE in Motion breaks down many barriers: personal, generational, and physical.
Aria Roach, student in Dance
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
Last week, each group was assigned at least one student in the dance program. This is very helpful because inexperienced dancers (like me and I’m sure several others) were able to mimic motions if they were unsure about where their limbs needed to be
next. This week, all the dance students were part of a major performance, so they were absent and the physical therapy and pharmacy students were expected to take the reins. Don’t get me wrong, the dance students were definitely missed, but their absence allowed all of us to dive into our more creative sides.
The theme for today’s class was listening. By listening, I do not mean listening to words.
I’m talking about listening to actions, motions, body language…etc. Engaging in non-verbal communication made me recall the common phrase, “Actions speak louder than words”, which usually is used to label those who make promises or statements and do not follow through with them. Today’s class allowed to contemplate a different perspective of that phrase. At the start of class, there was an assigned leader that initiated motions, and then the rest of the responders reacted to the movement. It was amazing to watch how quickly we became comfortable with each other. We reached a point, within minutes, to where there really was no need for a leader because each group was so in-sync with each other. Watching people dance gave me a snippet of each of their personalities, which is something that may take hours, weeks or even months to discover in verbal conversation. Some were outgoing and goofy while others were more reserved and shy. It also reminded me that age really IS just a number and that we all, no matter how young or old, are just people trying to live life and have fun.
Aging is change and it happens to everyone. Most people do not like aging because of
all the negative-associated and uncontrollable changes that comes with it. I don’t know what’s in store for me when I get older, but I do know that there are several constants that I know I can control and keep: my goofy, outgoing personality and my positivity to enjoy life and have fun.
Teri Draper, 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