Digital Life Stories – A New Skill and A New Friend

What happens when you match college students in “Sociology of the Life Course” with local community-dwelling elders for 15 weeks?

The answer: Fabulous symbiosis. All involved were charged with collaborating on a digital story about the elder’s life. What emerged, after two life history interview sessions, were some amazing 3-5 minute digital stories, as well as real mutual respect, and lifelong friendships across generations.

This *random* assignment of matches yielded amazing inter-generational partnerships like this:

*Leo and Caroline discussed how Catholicism plays into major decisions in their lives.

*Married couple Jerry and Marvie shared crucial advice on future careers and finances with new graduate,    Virginia (see picture above).

*Erin and Larry bonded over being a budding motivational speaker and a pro.

*Sandy trusted the writing of her future obituary to Evan.

*Married couple Stan/Sylvia got so close they offered to host football player Harlan over the summer.

I could go on and on. These were inspirational pairings all around.

In years past these digital stories have been played at memorial services & family reunions. As I told the students, once you make a digital story, you never know where it will end up. So take this seriously!

This year the Hamilton Historical Commission was our partner, and they will post these on their website (now in process) to honor local history and those who have participated in it.

Thanks to these elders’ stories, we now know more about about our Upstate NY region in relation to WWII, migrant farming, firefighting, the founding of a university, and town/gown relations. We also can see how elders continue to work at continuity, connection, daily routine, and meaningful lives.

So take a look at the 2012 Elder Project and let us know, which one is your favorite and why.

Congrats to all who participated for a job well done!  And best of luck new graduates!


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Meika Loe

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