St. Albert students practice their conversational English with our seniors.

Intercultural Senior Center frequently welcomes student volunteers who assist our staff with everything from teaching conversational English to helping serve lunch to lending a hand with art projects. Both the staff and seniors are very appreciative of these gifts of time and talent. But recent comments and cards from some of the students confirmed our belief that the learning goes both ways.

For example, student volunteers from Saint Albert High School in Council Bluffs noted how nonjudgmental the seniors were and “so very accepting” when they stumbled with their efforts to practice their Spanish. Another mentioned how attentive and enthusiastic the elders were. “From the food we served to the classes we helped with, they just seemed to appreciate everything and were so grateful for everything.”

While many of their peers were spending spring break basking on sandy beaches, students from Creighton University’s Center for Service & Justice spent a whole week with us over their break, developing a deeper understanding of our work and the unique needs of our global guests. From their notes, it appears they left with something much more lasting than a short-lived tan.

“Thank you so much for letting us join your incredible community over our spring break. By helping out around the center and working one-on-one with the seniors, a fire was sparked in me that I hope will never burn out. Thanks to you and all the amazing seniors, I will forever have these meaningful memories and stories to tell of the people I’ve met. Thank you for everything you do; I am inspired.”

 

One Creighton student expressed appreciation for the experience, noting, “To be a part of their lives for that one week has truly touched me and impacted my life forever. And I can’t applaud you enough for the great work that you all do to help the seniors on their journey of fulfilling the American Dream. It is truly inspiring to see their growth. Thank you again for letting us be a part of your family.”  

Another student wrote: “I learned so much from you guys as well as the seniors at the center. I built so many connections with them and will definitely miss them all. From dancing and teaching to serving food and making posters, the smiles never stopped. It was contagious, too.  Each smile of theirs made my smile grow wider.”

Sometimes it’s difficult to determine who enjoys these experiences more.

“[The seniors] laughter and good moods were infectious and their friendships and celebrations enlivened ISC. Though I could not understand their spoken language except for a little Nepali and Spanish, I could understand the language of smiling and joy. I learned from these role models how I would like to enjoy my life—now as a young person pursuing a career—and when I am older myself.”

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If you would like to explore volunteer “learning” opportunities at ISC, visit our volunteer page at interculturalseniorcenter.org.