Thursday, February 9, 2012

From Wharton, with Love

A lot of times, I get emotional talking about how much I love this project, and my senior buds, but when Thelma and I met with the five graduate students who make up our Wharton team, it was the students’ personal stories that made my eyes water. I was so moved by what Roger, Toral, Martha, Leslie and Vikas said, that I’ve asked them to write it down here, for you all to read.

It’s not easy to show your feelings when you are going to an Ivy League university and the top business school in the world. But when these students introduced themselves to Thelma and me, not only did they tell us about their academic and professional experiences, they shared stories about what The Best Day of My Life (So Far) means to them, personally. What they shared meant a lot to me, because ultimately our project’s mission is to use seniors’ stories to create an inclusive, intergenerational conversation – and through the process build up both seniors and younger generations simultaneously. Well, looks like this conversation now includes five very cool, very smart graduate students with very big hearts.

Check out our last blog post if you haven’t yet to read Thelma’s introduction of our Wharton initiative, and why this marks a significant moment in The Best Day of My Life (So Far)’s growth.

Thank you, guys, for sharing your stories and for coming on board. Really, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Roger:  During the summers of my youth, I would spend time working at my parents’ business, which was located in a retirement community.  It was there I listened to seniors tell me stories ranging from grand experiences of fighting in wars and growing up during the great depression to simple life in rural Texas.  Those stories brought history to life for me, made me appreciate things, and gave me a much broader perspective on life.  For me, their stories and other seniors’ stories are so enriching and need to be communicated in a way that lasts forever, hence, TBDOMLSF and my fondness for being involved.

Toral:  I felt that The Best Day of My Life So Far resonated with me on a deeply personal level. Growing up, I spent countless phone calls and visits with my grandmother listening to stories from her life.  From those, I learned invaluable lessons and built memories with my grandmother that defines our relationship to this day.  I believe in the impact that storytelling can have on the storyteller and their audience, and I love that TBDOMLSF is building a community around sharing stories.

Martha:  I belong to a family of very good story tellers and have always appreciated and enjoyed the time spent in their company. So The Best Day of My Life (So Far) appealed to this or my sense of building relationships and knowing people better. As we live in a sometimes very disconnected world, it seems what TBDOMLSF is trying to do is be surrounded by people who can share life experiences and know each other at a deeper level.

Leslie:  The neighborhood I grew up in wasn’t rich, but it was very closely-knit.  People’s grandparents lived with them, or at most a few streets over.  I’d go over to friends’ houses and their grandparents would be there in the kitchen.  Seniors were part of everyone’s family, everyone’s household.  We could talk whenever we wanted, and they enriched us.  The best stories come from those who’ve seen a lot of life. It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long since those days, but now I don’t know many households that include grandparents.  I think we’ve lost something important.  So how do we get it back?

Vikas:  In the past I've worked to support childhood and adult education, so TBDOMLSF is a wonderful opportunity for me to continue working towards education and enrichment for people at every stage of life.  I look forward to meeting the rest of the TBDOMLSF team and working to deepen our impact within the community.