Campus Partnerships for Intergenerational Programming
Partnerships within a university or college system are an important aspect of many Osher Institutes that can offer a wealth of opportunities for members. The Osher Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) has found one such opportunity within UCLA’s Extension program.
Throughout the academic year, OLLI members meet with UCLA Extension’s American Language Center (ALC) to assist foreign students in refining their English language skills. The Osher Institute members help by presenting a piece of their life story for examination and discussion. This is a phenomenon across many college campuses whereby the young learn from older adults in the community.
In an April 11, 2014 Los Angeles Times supplement, a profile appeared on this subject providing the context of this concept: “Traditional learning is outcome-based, where students are motivated to learn primarily by external pressures from parents, teachers/trainers, employers, the consequences of failure, grade, certificates, etc.,” says Lynda Wilson*, former director of Humanities & Sciences, UCLA Extension. “Mature students don’t typically share this motivation. They are interested in the sheer joy of learning, so it is important courses aren’t designed to be strictly outcome-based. Lifelong learning courses also provide mature students with opportunities to stay engaged and meet new friends, which enhance longevity and vitality.”
Since then, this partnership has expanded to include intercultural mixers where OLLI members and ALC students “speed-date” in pairs to answer each other’s questions in English or in the student’s native language. It also includes the Language Partners Program (LPP) whereby the participants meet in a public location based on mutual convenience and improve upon one another’s intercultural awareness.
While forging partnerships may not always be easy, once formed, they can lead to many great programming possibilities and immense enrichment for Osher Institute members.
*Dr. Lynda Wilson remains affiliated with the OLLI network in a new role at California State University Dominguez Hills as the CEIE Associate Dean