Seniors, students bridge the generation gap
Rockland — Chelsea Keyes doesn’t cook so she was shocked to learn that 81-year-old Joyce Braley had to butcher cows and make butter when she was a teenager growing up on a farm in Maine.
Keyes and other Oceanside High School students have been interviewing senior residents at Methodist Conference Home in Rockland for an intergenerational project comparing the differences between life for teenagers in the 1940s and now.
The My Story project is giving Pete Conover’s Creative Writing class and alternative education students a chance to get some real-life experience being journalists and historians. Students play the role of the interviewer, and seniors share their infinite wisdom that comes through their life stories.
“It has been wonderful," said Braley in a news release. “All my grandchildren live away so I feel like I’ve made a new friend.”
Even after Keyes completes the final assignment to write a biography of Braley’s life, she plans to come back to “just hang out.”
“It has been very rewarding to watch the relationships between students and seniors develop,” said Conover who thinks the My Story project has been an effective way to teach speaking, listening and writing in a fun, hands-on way that involves students with their community.
As well as fulfilling the important task of documenting seniors stories, the project focuses on creating personal connections between seniors and young people, said Michelle Moschkau, enrichment activities director for Methodist Conference Home. “The project gives students a chance to learn wisdom and knowledge about history in a way that they couldn’t get from a book.”
Discussions have included what it was like to share a party telephone line versus texting and using the Internet today, how life in Rockland has changed and what young people do for fun then and now.
This project will continue through the winter, and the lessons learned, and the friendships established will last a lifetime, said Moschkau. “The students’ assignment will become time capsules for generations to come.”