In the whirlwind of introductory meetings, light festivals, tours and visitors, I am steadily at work on my Fulbright Capstone Project.
In brief, I am developing and facilitating a month-long intergenerational drama program, bringing theatre studies students from a Junior College together with elders from a local senior activity center. The current working draft of my research question is: how can an intergenerational drama project in Singapore help young people to develop empathy for elders?
I have assembled a team to work with me on the project (with the help of the amazing Jaclyn at the Junior College). Dr. Robin Loon is my local Fulbright Capstone advisor who is helping me with research methodology and providing an outside eye on the project. I am working with the CIP Coordinator at the Junior College and the Director of Elder Services at the Touch Centre to schedule the project and find participants.
At this point, the project is in the scheduling phase of things. After we figure that piece out (I hope to start in mid-April), I will finalize the curriculum for the project. As the scheduling has been happening, I have been developing research methodology and been doing a literary review in preparation for the project.
At the project’s end, I will write a research paper with my findings. And then I’ll write a comparative piece about the intergenerational drama projects I’ve done in the US, UK, and Singapore. And then I’ll write a book. And then I’ll…
This is the project description I wrote for the school (I realize it’s formal, but I thought it might of interest to some of you):
Description of Project:
During the months of April and May, Dr. Jennifer Kulik will facilitate an intergenerational drama program with JC students and a group of elders from one of the JC’s community partner organization.
For the first month of the program, JC students will engage in four workshops with Dr. Kulik (for 60 – 90 minutes each time) to develop a working understanding of Applied Theatre methodologies (Reminiscence and Playback theatre modalities in particular), oral history interviewing skills, conversational skills, learn to work together with other JC students involved in the program, and begin to develop drama facilitation skills. These workshops will help prepare the students to use drama in their future interactions with elder partners.
JC students will meet the elders at least twice before the formal drama program begins, in one hour long “meet and greet” sessions facilitated by Dr. Kulik.
During the second month of the program, students will engage in 60 – 90 minute weekly workshops with Dr. Kulik to hone their drama facilitation and leadership skills, reflect upon their experiences with the intergenerational program elders, and prepare for the next intergenerational workshop.
Once a week in the second month of the program, the JC students will engage in life-story (reminiscence) based drama workshop with elder partners. The workshops will initially be facilitated by Dr. Kulik and then by JC students.
At the end of the program, the elders and JC students will share their experiences through a short workshop performance for the JC (and possibly outside) community.
JC students will also have an opportunity to engage in two Skype conversations with Dr. Kulik’s former Applied Theatre students (who recently completed an intergenerational drama program) at The Northwest School in Seattle, US. One of the discussions will occur before the JC students meet the elders, and the other will occur at the end of the intergenerational drama program at the JC.
Students will develop or hone their skills in the following areas:
Community engagement / service
An understanding and appreciation for elders’ life experiences
Personal relationships with elders outside of the students’ families
Oral History and interviewing skills
A widened perspective of the community
An understanding of aging / life processes
A working understanding of applied theatre techniques Reminiscence and Playback theatre
Student Obligations / Assignments:
Students will be asked to keep a personal journal about the experience of being involved in this program. Dr. Kulik will collect these journals periodically during the program to gauge the students’ interest, comfort level, and engagement.
Students will be asked to reflect upon (and possibly research) their own religious and / or cultural community’s definition of “community” and “empathy” and share these definitions with the JC group.
Students will co-design and co-facilitate one of the workshop sessions with the elders.
Students are expected to attend and fully engage in every workshop session (unless an excused absence is necessary).
Preliminary planning begins.
Elder and student participants are identified.
All of the workshops are scheduled
Dr. Kulik sets the curriculum and lesson plans for the project
Dr. Kulik and CIP Coordinator meet with the elders to prep them for the program
JC students Skype with Northwest School students
Weekly JC workshops begin with Dr. Kulik; students begin their journaling and discussions about community and empathy
Two student / elder “meet and greets” are facilitated by Dr. Kulik
Weekly workshops for JC students with Dr. Kulik continue
Weekly intergenerational drama workshops begin
Students plan and facilitate workshops with the elders
Students Skype with Northwest School students
Students and elders share their program with others
Students reflect upon their experiences
The project’s success will be gauged by:
Student journal reflections
Personal or group interviews conducted with the students during their weekly workshop sessions
Field notes and photographs / videos gathered during the intergenerational drama workshops
Individual or group interviews conducted with the elders at the program’s end
Feedback gathered from the audience during or after the sharing session at the end of the program
Relationship to Fulbright Award:
Dr. Kulik is currently in Singapore on a Distinguished Award in Teaching Fulbright grant. The intergenerational drama program at JC will serve as an action research project towards the fulfillment of her grant obligations. Dr. Kulik will use the data (mentioned in the Project Assessment section) gathered in a research paper she will present to the Fulbright commission. She may also publish this paper in a scholarly journal at a future date. In her paper, Dr. Kulik will use pseudonyms for all of the students and elders, and will use a pseudonym for the school.
Dr. Kulik will also be taking photos and video during some of the workshop sessions. The videos and photos will be shared with JC and not published without written permission of the school, student (and their parents), or elder.
Because this project is centered on the content of the project (i.e. curriculum and project design) and not on the participants themselves, the primary data corpus gathered during these workshops will be focused on the curriculum.