Did you know that the adolescents and the elders are the two most lonely and mentally-vulnerable populations? With the added obstacles of social distancing, loneliness has only escalated. There’s a phenomenal program called the Sages & Seekers, which connects adolescents and elders. This program helps create engaging one-one activities in mutual respect, understanding, and empathy, which develop out of the intergenerational relationships that evolve. In reality, this program is not one where the elder spills out boring life lectures and mentoring speeches; it allows both the youth and the elders to interact at the same level, as friends! Both have interesting life stories to tell from wholly different perspectives. As social isolation continues to keep us all at a distance, let us take off our masks and bring on authentic meaningful relationships built upon the art of storytelling!
In response to the social distancing measures of COVID-19 pandemic, the Sages & Seekers has quickly adapted to virtual platforms as it transformed from an 8 week in-person workshop, into a 4-week Zoom program. Each meeting is 60 minutes long, one day a week, with 5 seekers(adolescents) and 5 sages(elders) paired up. The meeting starts with 15 minutes of ice breaking as everyone discusses relatable, convivial life topics as a whole group. Then after “speed chatting”- where each Seeker gets an opportunity to briefly talk to every Sage in the program, adolescents will choose a Sage to talk with in a break-out room for 40 minutes. Times fly during the 1-1 time between a Sage and a Seeker. It is truly a time of just fun, life-changing conversations as Sages share their life story and impart wisdom. Students experience the value of learning from elders, while having a non-judgmental older adult to talk to about just anything! At the end of the program, students prepare a brief “Tribute”, highlighting how their Sage has impacted their own lives. This “Tribute” leaves a long-lasting impact for both the Sage and the Seeker, acknowledging the valuable relationship built!
As a “Seeker” participant of this new virtual program, I have built amazing relationships with Sages-who I would’ve never had a chance to meet if not this opportunity. Going into the program, I can’t deny that I had stereotypes about old people and a strong belief that I wouldn’t feel much of a connection with them as my friends who previously participated told me about; however, all my perceptions have changed over the time of the program. My Sages taught me to be open and optimistic about what the future holds for me, despite the ongoing difficulties presented by the pandemic.
Participating in the Sages&Seekers Program is far and away one of the best ways to leave a positive mark during this quarantine. So if you are looking for something meaningful to do over your summer break, this program may be for you.