Bridging the generation gap

Bridging the generation gap
Miss Anees Aaysha with Mrs Pillai and other students and seniors receiving their awards.

OVER four months, 20 student volunteers and 15 seniors spent time with each other and traded knowledge.

For instance, the Indian seniors would pass on their experience to the Indian students who, in return, would spend time with them and teach them how to handle modern necessities like the iPhone.

The endeavour, called Project Shaping Our Unique Legacy (SOUL), was initiated last year by four undergraduates at the National University of Singapore (NUS) - Miss S. Nachammai Vidhya, Miss Elsa Shalina Abdullah, Miss S. Buvana and Miss Druga Rajendran.

Said Miss Vidhya, who is studying medicine: "We've worked on past projects together and that is how we met each other. We've done many projects. To name a few, we've done mentorship programmes, fundraisers, cultural programmes and so forth."

The four women were also motivated by their relationships with their grandparents.

Said Miss Elsa, a history student: "Part of what motivated us was that some of us don't have the ability to communicate with our grandparents or appreciate them as much as we would like to. We considered this a challenge for ourselves and also a way of giving back to the elderly."

Although the four undergraduates had come up with the idea to pair the young and old in their project, they did not have the resources and manpower to make it a reality.

When they told a mutual friend who volunteers with Radin Mas Indian Activity Executive Committee (IAEC) about their idea, she relayed their plans to the chairman, Mr G. Balachandran.

The two parties met and agreed that Radin Mas IAEC would find the seniors to take part in the project and the four undergraduates would look for student volunteers from universities, junior colleges and polytechnics.

Through word-of-mouth, friends and Facebook, Project SOUL was able to gather volunteers, who were then interviewed and selected based on a set of criteria including a genuine interest in interacting with seniors, a willingness to learn about and give back to the community and the ability to maintain a four-month commitment to the project.

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