By Zoe Hawryluk
As college students, we are moving in an innovative and often self-centered society. In today’s fast-paced environment, it’s easy to forget about the folks who kickstarted the social changes, innovations, and livelihoods we experience today.
Every day we learn about history and social justice. News is a click away and activism is at our fingertips. Although technology has opened a lot of doors, its convenience allows us to grow further and further away from our generational predecessors.
It can be hard to cope with change. Within the last 20 years, we’ve had more technological innovation than the 1600s to the mid-1900s combined. Can you imagine how overwhelming and isolating that must feel for the people born before us?
Joining Hands strives to break down the social barriers between college students and the outside world. FYSOP 27 Elders Coordinators Julia Correia and Nicole Tivnan are particularly passionate about the program’s vision.
“We don’t always find the time to look beyond ourselves. Our society is modeled around the potential of youth and productivity,” Nicole said. “Our lives are so focused on the future that we don’t always take the time to learn from our past.”
“It is important for people our age to engage with their elders because we live in a society where age is constantly displayed as a dividing factor,” Julia said.
Elders are often overlooked in society because they are stereotyped as no longer active contributors to society. This couldn’t be further from the truth. “They have lived through the history we study,” said Nicole. Our elders have a lot to teach us, we just need to listen.
Nicole and Julia believe we can fight this stigma by being open-minded and compassionate when spending time with elders.
That’s where Joining Hands comes in. Joining Hands provides an outlet for intergenerational interaction and conversation. By spending quality time with elders and talking to them as equals, we can develop a sense of empathy.
As college students, it is our responsibility to understand how age influences perception and how we treat those around us.
“There is value that comes with lived experience and wisdom that each of us can benefit from,” Nicole said. With a people-first mentality, age gaps will unite us rather than divide us.
“They [elders] have so much to teach us, and more often than not, we are the ones missing out on the experience,” said Julia.