by Maddy Feiner '17
Entering college four years ago, I was told I would be met with many different types of relationships: the changing relationships with my friends from high school, the formation of relationships with roommates and classmates at Ithaca, the evolution of my relationship with my parents who I would no longer see every day, and maybe even a relationship with the cute boy in my Introduction to Media Industries class. While that armchair advice did reign true, there is one relationship I cultivated in college that no one could have predicted.
The first time I met Ann, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I followed my GPS to a large residential building adjacent to the Commons. As I entered into the lobby of the building, I pushed the button on the directory to call her and alert her that I was downstairs. “Ann?” I said when she picked up the phone. “It’s Maddy from Ithaca College Project Generations.”
Project Generations is a club on campus that matches Ithaca College students to elders in the Ithaca community with the goal of forming intergenerational relationships. I signed up to be a part of the organization at the club fair my freshman year and was matched with my elder adult pair, Ann. Four years later I am the Public Relations VP on the executive board of the club and find ways to bring up Ann in any and every conversation that seems applicable.
I have been visiting Ann every week for about three years and it is by far my most consistent, stable, and mutually beneficial relationship to date. Every week Ann has a new story to tell me about her upbringing, her children, the book she is currently reading ,or the latest nursing home drama. After an hour passes and I have to reenter the bubble of classes, homework, exams and dining halls, I am consistently met with a “You have to go already?”
It is widely known that there are many benefits to friendly visitation for older adults. Especially for elders who live alone, like Ann, an hour of social interaction with a young person really goes a long way. However, it is less widely known that there are many benefits for a stressed college student to find companionship in an older adult. Having the opportunity to spend time with a wise, funny, sassy, and compassionate women like Ann has been a privilege, and she is bound to be one of my toughest goodbyes when I close this chapter in my life come May.