monique polak

Monique Polak's Books

4 minutes reading time (782 words)

"Clear Your Path" and other amazing moments from Looking Back for a Better Future


So the Blue Metropolis Literary Foundation team behind the educational project Looking Back for a Better Future spent the morning at Montreal West United Church, where students from Programme Mile End High School got to hang out with seniors in the Eva Marsden seniors' club.

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you'll have already heard about the students I met last week at Programme Mile End and their wonderful teacher Annie Ogle. And if you need evidence that our project is working, and that the kids are deeeelightful, take at look at today's pic. That's Henry sitting across from a senior named Al, and that's Aiden sitting to Al's left. I love the way Henry and Aiden are focused on Al, and listening so thoughtfully to his story. YAY!

The whole point of Looking Back for a Better Future is to let young people learn from seniors in their communities, and to build inter-generational links. Well that's exactly what we witnessed this morning. And to be honest, I didn't need to work very hard. Annie and I had helped the students prepare questions, but when we walked around the room every single conversation seemed to be a good one -- and they were all happening quite naturally.

Okay, here come a few delicious tidbits for your enjoyment -- and to give you hope for our world. Because you can't hang around with wonderful teenagers and wise seniors and NOT feel hopeful. So... here we go....

Ryan looked around the room where we were and told me, "I've been here a million times" -- that's because Ryan used to attend Sparks in the same church.I love the circularity of that!

KR was excited to share the wisdom he and his partner (the kids are working in small groups to do their interviews) Hurria learned from their senior, Jamie. It's a piece of wisdom Jamie told them he'd learned from a friend: "Clear your path." I was so impressed I used that line for the title of today's blog entry. It's true, we all need to clear our paths in order to do what we were meant to do, what we need to do, what makes us happy -- and allows us to make the world a little better too.

Lana was being interviewed by Ryan, Emily and Roxanne. Lana told them she comes to the group for company, "Most of my friends are dead." That made the three friends reflect on how lucky they are to be young and to have each other. (They made sure to tell me they have a fourth close friend, but she wasn't present today.)

Angelita, who's 81 and from the Philippines told "her" kids, Ray, Rylee and Emilie, "I just don't like reading. I feel sleepy when I read." Of course, when I heard this, I had to intervene -- I am a writer afterall, and I need readers to stay in business!! But I had to laugh when Ray told Angelita, "Me too!" (Just writing this makes me chuckle.) Look Angelita and Ray, we'll be back together next Monday, so I figure I still have a chance to talk you into becoming readers! Maybe you just haven't found the right book yet!

Addison and Avery were interviewing a senior named Bill. But Addison explained she and Avery were not yet taking notes -- and I could see why. Because they were too busy just plain conversing! At one point, the three were discussing places they had visited. Then, when Avery told us he was at last year's Super Bowl game, Bill responded: "That's not fair!" Which cracked us up, and made us reflect a little on whether life is fair. (We decided "not always"!!)

Oh, here's another beautiful moment for you. On our way out, Hurya told me, "I don't want to leave!"

I'll end today's blog entry with a comment from Claire O'Brien, who is the on-site coordinator for the Eva Marsden Centre. I asked Claire why she agreed to take part in the project and her answer, well it was PERFECT: "I love the idea of inter-generational projects. This is a way for young people and old people to find out how alike they are." EXACTLY!!! And guess what? We'll be back next Monday, and we're invited for lunch afterwards!

Huge thanks to Blue Met; to our coordinator Fréderick Gaudin-Laurin; to Annie and Claire, to videographer Alaric Boyle-Poirier who is making a movie about the project, and especially to the students and the seniors. Thanks for the gift of sharing your stories, and listening to stories, and being open to new friends of all ages. See you next Monday, gang!


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Monday, 15 April 2024

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