Writing Across Generations Wrap-Up - Listen to the Finished Podcasts!

Listen to the finished audio stories from our pilot project, and read what students and volunteers had to say about the experience.

First, check out this fantastic article about Writing Across Generations published in The Inlander!

Next, go listen to the finished podcasts!

FINAL CELEBRATION

The Writing Across Generations (WAG) virtual intergenerational pilot project wrapped up with a virtual celebration on June 4, 2021.

Screenshot from a virtual Teams meeting
TCS Teacher Nathan Seaburg (center right) address participants at the final celebration on June 4, 2021

Over the eight weeks of the project, 16 AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers and 29 high school students at The Community School (TCS) met weekly for virtual conversations.


Ultimately, each group was tasked with producing a five-minute podcast focusing on a story from their volunteers' lives, all responding to a common theme: "My Favorite Mistake."


At our final meeting, project staff, teachers, students, and volunteers met virtually to listen to each group's finished podcast together, as well as reflect on the experience and say a final farewell.

It was really amazing, the transition from just talking to thinking through those conversations and being like, "Oh yeah, that could make an interesting story" . . . That was awesome, and I thought this whole experience was really fun.

--TCS Student


Several volunteers had wonderful things to say as well:

It's just been life-affirming to come together as a community of all different ages, of all different backgrounds, for this kind of intimate, yet free conversation . . . coming out of COVID, this has been wonderful for me.

--Deborah, AmeriCorps Seniors volunteer


I am just blown away! They are all amazing stories, and such wonderful work by these students putting these podcasts together. I had a great time. Thank you for the experience!

--Patti, AmeriCorps Seniors volunteer



I appreciated the early sessions when we went from family traditions, to politics, then COVID, in a very thoughtful, supportive way. It really meant a lot because of this COVID time especially, [and] to get a look at what high schoolers were doing was eye-opening to me.

--Claire, AmeriCorps Seniors volunteer



I looked forward to every meeting with "my guys" . . . they were so supportive of each other and of me. This was a delight.

--Laurie, AmeriCorps Seniors volunteer

PROJECT OUTCOMES: BY THE NUMBERS

At the end of the project, we collected surveys from volunteer and student participants.


In terms of measurable impact, the purpose of Writing Across Generations is to increase academic engagement as defined by student attitudes about:

  • Learning about the life experiences of people from a different generation

  • Talking about one's own life experiences with people from a different generation

  • Interviewing people to learn their stories

  • Telling a story to an audience in a creative way

Of the 25 TCS students who completed our survey . . .

  • 23 students responded that they found it easier to relate to people from a different generation after completing the project.

  • 22 students responded that they were more interested in learning about the life experiences of other people after completing the project.

  • 20 students responded that they were more interested in interviewing other people to learn their stories after completing the project.

  • 21 students responded that they were more interested in the art of storytelling after completing the project.

  • 19 students responded that they were more interested in podcasting and/or audio production after completing the project.

  • 22 students responded that they developed meaningful relationships with the older adults in their group.

  • 23 students responded that the project was a valuable experience for them overall.

  • 21 students responded that they would participate in this project again or recommend it to others.

Overall, 23 TCS students demonstrated increased academic engagement as measured by our survey.


COMMENTS FROM TCS STUDENTS ABOUT WAG

I learned that generation gaps are way more complex than it seemed . . . talking and getting to know our group was intriguing.
Talking with the seniors was fun! You don't get a lot of opportunities to do that so it was nice to be able to do so . . . I learned that everyone has a different way of telling stories, and it's really interesting to see that.
The online meetings were effective and enjoyable.
It was great to get to know someone from a different generation. It was interesting to hear their stories.
I learned a lot about [our volunteers] and their lives, but I also learned how to interview in a way that doesn't feel like an interview. I learned life lessons from both [volunteers] . . . Overall, this experience taught me things that I hadn't even thought about learning.

Of the 11 volunteers who completed our survey . . .

  • 10 volunteers responded that they found it easier to relate to people from a different generation after completing the project.

  • 9 volunteers responded that they were more interested in learning about the life experiences of other people after completing the project.

  • 8 volunteers responded that they were more interested in talking about their own life experiences with other people after completing the project.

  • 9 volunteers responded that they were more interested in the art of storytelling after completing the project.

  • 10 volunteers responded that they developed meaningful relationships with the students in their group.

  • 10 volunteers responded that the project was a valuable experience for them overall.

  • 8 volunteers responded that they believed the project was a valuable experience for the students.

  • 9 volunteers responded that they would participate in this project again or recommend it to others.

COMMENTS FROM AMERICORPS SENIORS VOLUNTEERS ABOUT WAG

It was enjoyable to chat with the students on various topics and to read their reactions to what had been discussed. It seemed very eye-opening to the students that the adults had had life experiences similar to theirs; uncertainty about making a career choice, dysfunctional family dynamics, trying something that didn't work out . . . We were all able to show respect to others with differing viewpoints and beliefs.
I felt like I really got to know the students and some of the struggles they're facing. I was totally impressed at how transparent they were, and how supportive.
I found the opportunity to forge a link between generations exciting, rewarding, and full of joy. Wonderful to meet three citizens of this "brave new world." I'm impressed with their maturity, intelligence, and solid, constructive values -- perhaps fostered by The Community School. I will miss them.
I really enjoyed the experience and looked forward to it every time we had a meeting. I would absolutely participate again.
With all our different backgrounds, and struggles through the current times, we seemed to easily fall into a level of trust from the beginning . . . This was an engaging and effective way to expand and strengthen community -- truly precious moments.

We don't know when the next Writing Across Generations project will run again, or exactly what form it will take, but one thing's for sure -- this project was a success!


One way or another, WAG will continue. We are thrilled at the prospect of expanding to other classrooms, other schools, even other districts. How it will grow, adapt, and evolve will be a joy to discover.


Thank you to the teachers, students, and volunteers who made this possible!



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