Friday, July 31, 2009

Senior Prom and Letters to India

Sifting through boxes of old ideas, I stumbled upon two projects I want to highlight. The first was developed by a group of friends as part of an honors leadership course. Moved by the isolation and institutionalization of senior citizens in our country, they hosted a "senior prom" to bring together local college students and members of an assisted living home. The students came in suits and gowns and danced with the older folks. They pushed them around in wheel chairs and listened to their stories. It was magical to see the light in peoples' eyes as they got into the festivities. The event sparked conversations about our country's treatment of the elderly and the value of interaction between the young and the old.

The second project was one that I developed with a group for the same class. Motivated by the negative effects of cultural imperialism and misunderstanding, we ran a global diversity awareness program at a local church and middle school. The program consisted of a group discussion about diversity on local and global scales, educational games, a presentation on India, and a pen pal initiative with an orphanage in India. We were impressed by the insight students brought to discussions (particularly the younger group!) and touched on ideas of cultural relativism, tolerance, and respect. We mailed over 100 letters to India and a month or so later received a holiday package with pictures and notes. It was a truly special exchange.

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