Hello again! It’s me, Vienne. Since the last blog post about the Vertically Integrated Project looking at Intergenerational Engagement in Research and Teaching (IE), I was talking about how the IE team decided to spilt into two and all of us had a chance to vote. I am in the research team. What took me by surprise is that nearly half of the group chose to be in this team. This surprised other teammates as well. In fact, we all wondered “Am I the only one?” But things turned out surprisingly well in the end. We formed a new sub-team officially.
There are seven of us in the team. Since it was new, Sasha created a separate WhatsApp group for our team-specific chats. I asked if we could do an aging booth together as a way to embrace the very notion of ageing. Scrolling through my photo library which stores around 60,000 pictures, finally, I found a selfie which allowed proper human face detection. As I shared my old me to the team, I was saying how my glass frames went out of shape after processing. A quick remark from Sasha did make my day. She said, “The wonky glasses make it more realistic uk cuz ppl sit on their glasses sometimes”.
Things remain flexible as usual. We have a regular meeting every Friday afternoon. The meeting also fits nicely into my Friday schedule. Timewise, I have three hours to relax after a day of work. I usually treat myself a cup of bubble tea and roam freely before heading back for the meetings. I believe other teammates have a lot on their plates but they strive to make the VIP work too. Sometimes, I heard them saying “Sorry, I have to go in 15 minutes because I have another class” or I literally heard an alarm clock going off. The good thing is that our meetings don’t run late. While waiting for members to show up, we chit chat, laugh at our ‘mishaps’, and enjoy good banter for a few minutes (and I do enjoy listening to Holly’s stories!). In case we have a hectic schedule, it is perfectly fine to skip a meeting or two. I did so because I was once on a tight deadline for an assignment.
As a research team, we are working on a survey to explore what stops people from joining community service groups for older generations, what they have known about the services already, and what they would be interested in. We also look at any barriers, perceived or real, to entry as well as stereotypes. Based on literature review and discussion among ourselves, we sent our drafted questionnaire to Fiona for feedback. Aimee was able to arrange a meeting with Fiona before the Christmas holiday. We received a lot of timely and constructive feedback on our draft. For example, we learnt the importance of defining what we meant by ”older adults”. To be specific, we might say “people over 60”, “20 years younger or older for another generation”, or “people who are retired”. Also important is that we should be mindful of implications of words. When saying "services", we could word it in a more positive way, such as "opportunities". Or if we are asking, “How would you like to get involved in the community?”, we should avoid using words like “giving it back to the community” because older adults don’t owe us anything. Our next step is to define clearer goals of the survey, refine our wording, and set the survey up for distribution.
Since joining the group in October, this is the first time I was able to e-meet Fiona. Although the IE team spilt, I believe we are working towards the same goals, fulfilling different yet complementary needs. Plus, we share the same opportunities and resources. In the next post, I will talk about my participation in additional volunteer work derived from this IE project.
Perhaps, it is good to end this post with an anecdote. I am never good at telling jokes, but the punchline goes “please cut me some slack if I mishear you or cannot hear you”. My attention tends to be rather ‘selective’ in the evening when my brain doesn’t seem to work well in a second language mode. On one occasion, I almost failed to catch my teammate's greeting: Merry Christmas! Gosh! I felt like being the sloths in Zootopia. But I was glad that my delayed response (i.e. saying Merry Christmas back) didn’t bring any disappointment. Well, sometimes, it could be an internet issue. Who knows?
B.E.L.A.T.E.D. M.E.R.R.Y. C.H.R.I.S.T.M.A.S. E.V.E.R.Y.O.N.E!