There is nothing more heartwarming than seeing people helping one another. It is easy to forget in a society where we are so often bombarded with negativity that truly positive things go on in our communities every single day. People get married, babies are born, a stranger helps out somebody who can’t change their own tire on the side of the road.
Many times, these actions go completely unnoticed and unrecognized. As such, we would like to take a moment to recognize the work accomplished by college students who assist senior citizens learn to better utilize technology within the Pilgrim Senior Center.
The program is part of the University of Rhode Island and was featured in today’s Beacon and should be further heralded as an excellent example of intergenerational programming. It not only operates in Warwick, but with eight different senior centers to provide a means for college students to earn volunteering credit and, hopefully, provide them with a better sense of understanding and appreciation for their elders.
A program such is this is so important not only for the betterment of relationships between young people and the elderly, but because it is so hugely important that everybody in today’s society be better in tune with technology. Technology is everywhere and inundates every aspect of our culture, from how we stay in touch to how we learn about the world around us.
Being unaware of how to interact with technology not only cuts somebody off from experiencing all that the modern world has to offer, it leaves that person open to potential threats to their wellbeing, like phishing scams that could lead to the theft of money or even full-on identity theft. Being able to know what differentiates something from being legitimate versus something that should be treated with caution is all a part of being technologically literate.
For senior citizens, it is an understandably tall task to try and keep up with the lightning fast advances in technological power. Just 10 years ago, being able to easily chat with somebody in real time as you simultaneously view them in real time via a video was possible, sure, but mostly unheard of within mainstream society. Back then, the first iPhone was a clunky and buggy shell of what we currently take for granted.
However, younger generations have been born into this rapidly advancing technological climate. Not only are younger generations more capable of quickly understanding and being able to manipulate this technology, it is essential that they do so. There are a multitude of professions nowadays that either didn’t exist just a decade or two ago or that have changed so drastically due to the explosion in popularity of social networking and availability (and ability to share) of other forms of media.
This program provides the opportunities for younger people to become teachers to people who can also provide them with valuable lessons of their own – lessons that stem from their personal experience. By forming a friendly relationship, this exchange of information can be incredibly beneficial to both parties. Ultimately, it is the epitome of a win-win.
We are hopeful that the program can expand to even more senior centers, so that senior citizens can become more involved in the modern technological world, keep up to date with their loved ones and be less prone to horrible scams that so often victimize their computer illiteracy, which is no fault of their own.
Likewise, we hope even more colleges will begin to initiate programs like this so that young people can gain more appreciation for the people in our senior centers. Many of them have incredible stories and would love nothing more than to have an ear to listen to them.
Who knows, you may go into the program expecting to teach someone how to Snapchat (something that seems so simple to the younger generations) and leave with a better understanding of things that senior citizens consider simple but are not considered high priority by younger people, like how to be more fiscally responsible or how to sew a new button onto a shirt. We can all learn from one another.