One major fear of the youth is that we will be stuck where we do not want to be. A bad job, career, relationship- we are terrified of being stagnant and unhappy. We are terrified of making a choice that could negatively affect our life.
On the other hand, there are people who have lived a long life and know about all the hurdles we are about to leap through. They know about being stuck at a college, having a dead-end job, being in an unhealthy relationship. They have survived and know what we have yet to learn.
Joining Generations recently held two successful Speed Mentoring events and will be holding a third. Students got the chance to express their fears and ask various life questions to people who have lived through the same fears and unknowns. By asking about life experiences- college, careers, living life, finding love, and more, the students were able to learn about the resident’s lives, the importance of perseverance, getting involved with the community, finding internships, etc. This communication became an opportunity to break the communication barrier between the senior citizens and student volunteers which ultimately led to the improvement of the social skills of the teens as well as learning and gaining perspective.
While this may sound trivial, it is important to understand that empathy can not happen without communication. Students and the elderly are not just talking to each other, but are planting the seeds to understand each other, which will grow into the beautiful flower of empathizing with each other.