by Samantha Fredberg
Residents of Chinese ancestry from the Golda Meir House, a senior independent living community in Newton, came to explore North April 26 with their friends, students of honors Chinese 5.
For the past several years, students in honors Chinese 5 have made visits to the Golda Meir House on Stanton Avenue of the Jewish Community Housing for Elders (JCHE) to visit residents of Chinese ancestry. JCHE is a program dedicated to providing housing for elders whose first language is not English. This year, students visited the Golda Meir House five times.
According to junior Winnie Chan, a participant in the outreach program, “it’s important to slow down, everything is happening so fast in high school. We kind of forget to take a deep breath, and talk to people who have already been through that experience. They can give you a lot of advice about life.”
On their visits to the Golda Meir House this year, the group played games, made dumplings, crafted lanterns, and celebrated numerous Chinese holidays and festivals such as Chinese New Year and the Lantern Festival, according to junior Sabrina Ng. The year’s programs concluded with the residents visiting North.
During the visit, students led the residents on a tour of North. The residents went to high school in China, and were surprised by the differences between their schools and North, according to Chan.
Chinese teacher Star Lew said the outreach between students and elders creates an environment for students to practice Chinese, but also receive advice and wisdom.
“They have a lot of experience because they immigrated from China, and they’ve shared a lot of themselves with us,” Ng said. “I’ve learned life lessons from them.”
The residents also saw many benefits to this intergenerational outreach. “The residents are having fun because they don’t have or don’t see their grandchildren. Now they are seeing students and learning all these modern things,” Lew said.
The intergenerational outreach will continue at North in future years. According to Lew, the program will continue to benefit students and residents.
Ng said, “I think it’s important to have relationships with older people because they are perceived as weak or not cool, but in reality they’re like us. They love to talk, they love to play games, and they like to do everything that we like.”