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
Today the PALETTE Program took a trip to the Visual Arts Center where we divided into different classes to learn about either book making, pottery, letter press or portraits. I had the opportunity to attend the book making class. Unfortunately my PAL was unable to attend class today. However, since we were in a small class I was able to interact with some of the other PALs in the book making class which gave me the opportunity to meet new people and learn about them through the books we created. It was interesting to hear why people selected the clippings and colors they used for their book and how it pertained to their life and current feelings they had. I felt that by creating the art with them I was able to learn more about them on a deeper level that I wouldn’t have gotten to by just talking with them. We were able to laugh and help each other out with our books as a class. I enjoyed everyone sharing their creations. It is hard for me to believe that the program is almost over for the semester! I have thoroughly enjoyed having the opportunity to meet new people of different generations and learn about the many different art techniques there are. It has been such an enlightening and enjoyable experience for me.
Emily Johnson, graduate student in Dental Hygiene.
Each week Anne and I spend more time together, I realize how great of a friendship we have developed. Painting portraits of each other this week truly exemplified how much fun we have together attempting to make art, even though we both typically excel at stick figures, and being able to laugh about it with ourselves. Before beginning our projects today, she told me a story that really touched my heart and showed me how our meetings have impacted each other’s lives. Anne recently had surgery and was concerned about taking her pain medication that was for post-surgery pain with other medications she was currently taking. She said she was worrying a little over how she would figure out what to do and contemplated just not taking anything at all, when she thought of me and how a pharmacist could be a quick and easy way to ease her mind. She talked with her local pharmacist and all was resolved. It was so nice to hear that getting to know each other and talking about our lives (ie. my career goals in this instance) really made an impact on her everday life. It amazes me how great of a fit Anne and I are for each other and have really grown to become friends who think about one another outside of just our Sunday meetings. I hope we continue to stay in touch once this program is over.
Jennifer Walters, graduate student in Pharmacy.