Learning Through Intergenerational Connections

Miyu Nakajima, student, University of California San Diego  |  May 6, 2022 in Pearson Students

Blog author Miyu Nakajima is wearing one of her vintage dresses, a long pink dress with short, puffed sleeves and belted at the waist. She is also wearing black Converse sneakers and has a black cross-body purse. She is standing on concrete steps and is looking back towards something behind her.

"​The sooner growing older is stripped of reflexive dread, the better equipped we are to benefit from the countless ways in which it can enrich us."​ –Ashton Applewhite

My vintage dress collection is still minimal, but I’m proud of it, nonetheless. After finding my first one at the thrift shop, I still remember twirling around with glee way too many times in a 1950s Candi Jones pink floral dress. I just love how these dresses are meant for dancing, to make you sway side by side so that you can feel the fabric swish past. And I know that the previous owners of these pieces must’ve felt the same way. I love knowing that. I love knowing that somewhere, in another timeline, they too, also felt dolled up in these dresses. It’s a shared experience.

In A Way, It Is Time Travel

That’s why I love listening to older people talk about their past, nodding along as they describe their first heartbreak, their first time holding a baby, their wedding, and more. I know that I’ll get to that chapter of life one day and experience those same feelings, but for now, I just get to listen and, in a way, time travel.

To Be Truly Wise Is to Learn from Other’s Mistakes Before They Become Yours

As graduation approaches, I can feel the impending pressure to ensure I’m “adulting” and securing my future. However, I’ve learned that the best way to deal with this graduation anxiety is to talk with older people, particularly seniors who have so much wisdom. I encourage college students to connect with elders and be inspired to make an impact in the world that the seniors entrusted us with. You can find seniors to talk to at senior retirement centers, volunteer opportunities, and maybe even through family friends.

The more I talk with seniors, the more I realize the importance of stepping away from the screen, enjoying the small moments (like dancing in a beautiful dress), and having an abundant mindset ready to tackle new experiences and learn from mistakes. Yet, despite all of this wisdom, our society perpetuates ageism. So many seniors have fought through obstacles like misogyny, financial crisis, and more, which inspires me to keep pushing through, despite it all. I hope that through intergenerational connections, I can learn not to be anxious about my future and continue to be a lifelong scholar who strives to turn the world into a comfortable place for our senior citizens, all the while swishing around in hand-me-down vintage dresses.

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