Jeannie’s Personal Voice Sharing

This morning, Jeannie Siong, one of the student participants in the intergenerational drama program shared the following with the Victoria Junior College community. This sharing marks the second in as many weeks to speak at Assembly about this project. I am deeply thrilled to learn about the impact of this project on the students.

Written and presented by Jeannie Siong:

Good morning everyone. My name is Jeannie and today I will be sharing on a project that a group of Victorians, me included, participated in.

When we think of working with the elderly, certain fears we might face is, perhaps, them being uncooperative, or unenthusiastic, and maybe us having a huge lack of patience. Now, you may be thinking it is those generic CIP where you have to care for the elderly, and talk to them and maybe perform for them. But this, this is something new. We have participated in an Inter-generational Drama project. During this project, we co-designed and co-facilitated workshops to teach and learn drama with the elderly. Every week we’ll have a certain theme included. Themes we’ve done are Games, Celebrities, Fashion and Birthdays. (This picture shows the theme of Fashion where these two elderly are dressed up by us and they’re pretending to be a couple). (Here’s another where our two uncles are looking for a fight.)

Now, I would like to share with you what I’ve felt, what I’ve learnt from this short journey of about six weeks.

When I first joined this project, I felt so lost in a way as I was the only student there that didn’t have any background of theatre studies. I mean, I am a Science student! So this was something really new to me, and also something that I’ve always wanted to try. Then I realized something important. Something that is very significant to the project. We are teaching DRAMA. To the ELDERLY. I mean I won’t usually associate the elderly with doing elaborate actions or being enthusiastic in speaking. But on the first week at the Senior Activity centre, I was amazed. The elderly there are so friendly. They are so excited about us being there to play with them. That’s when I know, I’m really going to enjoy this. (This is a picture of the first day of us being there the theme being Games. And the two uncles here are showing us how to spin tops in the olden days.)

(This here is the theme of Fashion, where this aunty was mischievously walking around in her elaborate but adorable outfit.)

Every week as we head down to the Senior Activity centre, all of us realized that there were changes in the level of enthusiasm, engagement, and even closeness. Every week, we realized that they are getting increasingly used to our presence there that they would share with us increasingly personal background stories. There was one week which we didn’t managed to visit them due to Vesak Day and they were so upset about it. They came up to us individually to thank us for the previous weeks of fun and games. They also told us that they’ll miss us. That was when it dawned to us that every week, as we head there for just an hour of entertainment, we are building a bond. During our after-session discussion, we came to a conclusion that visiting them was like visiting your family.

From listening to the stories shared by the uncle that was in my discussion group, I realized that even though his children were no longer close to him, he still sincerely believed in them and was so proud of them. It was evident when he was so engrossed in telling me stories about them. He looked so sad though that I actually felt guilty. I realized the importance of spending time with your family members. Especially people like your Grandparents. Some of us may find them naggy, and we just avoid visiting them, or even talking to them. The human life is so fragile. I learnt to realize that not too long ago. That is why I want to play a part in this project in spreading this love and care for the elderly.

That’s the end of my sharing. Thank you.

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