McLean County Diversity Project c/o Jeffrey A. Schwartz PO Box 58 Downs, IL 61736
Scholar Chad on the East Bay Camp Retreat
All content is ©Copyright 2010 McLean County Diversity Project
The East Bay training experience meant a lot to me and to everyone in the project. The Eastbay Camp experience was a very unique one that was designed by Sandy McGhee and Robin Bagwell, two educators from the University of Illinois Extension Program.
The Diversity Project Scholars arrived at Eastbay Camp on a Friday afternoon in April. After eating dinner, we gathered around and had our first interaction. Sandy and Robin guided us through a series of pictures. These pictures were very interesting optical illusions. For example, we were shown a picture that to some people looked like a guy playing a saxophone. However, other people saw the face of a woman. Some people could only see the saxophone player in the picture, until other people explained how to see the woman's face, and vice versa. The images in the pictures were all about perspective. Some people naturally focused on the darker part of the image and saw the saxophone player; and other people naturally focused on the lighter part of the image and saw a woman's face. This is a very good metaphor for how people see the world. Everybody is different and has a different perspective of the world. Sometimes people can't see eye to eye, such as when somebody can only see the saxophone player and someone else can only see the woman's face. However, with some explaining and perspective taking, you can see life from someone else's point of view.
The other activity we did that night was to make a list of words that we would use to describe people age 65 and older. Some of our words were nice while others were not. After we made that list, we talked about some stereotypes of the elderly that we have and how they're not always true. For example, people think that most senior citizens are in nursing homes, when really only about 6 percent of senior citizens are currently in a nursing home.
On Saturday morning, we took a personality test. The personality test separated our personalities into four distinct categories; emotional and outgoing, analytical and curious, organized and goal oriented, and competitive and thrill-seeking. We had multiple choice questions that were designed to tell us which category we were closest to. The test told us which category we were most like, second most like, third most like, and least like. Then everyone separated into groups with people that shared their top category. These groups made posters and explained to all the other groups what their personality was all about. Then we talked about how we can make the upcoming trip to the Great Smoky Mountains as enjoyable as possible for each group. Everybody has different things that make them happy. For example, white water rafting will be exciting for the thrill seekers, while the organized scholars will want a schedule for the week. Everybody sees the world differently and has different things that make them happy, and we learned how to accommodate everybody, not just people similar to us.
Next, we discussed some of the various effects that aging has on the body. Vision can deteriorate, particularly the distinction between green and blue. Hearing can also become impaired, especially higher pitched sounds. Besides just learning about these problems, we also experienced them firsthand. We put on glasses, that simulated the aging process, and tried and failed to distinguish between green and blue. Then we listened to a recording that garbled words, simulating the aging process. It was very hard to understand what the recording was saying. These activities gave us some perspective on what it is like to age, and gave us a lot more understanding for the elderly.
After lunch on Saturday, we went outside. We were given various pictures of important events in history, such as the Great Depression, WWII, the assassination of JFK, and the popularization of the Internet. As a group, we put them on a timeline, trying to guess their approximate time in history. Afterwards, Robin and Sandy told us the real dates of each event. As we went through the timeline, we learned various events that shaped each generation of people. Then, we talked about the various generations of people, from the Millennials, to the Generation X'ers, to the Baby Boomers, to the Radio Generation. We discussed how the major events from each generation gave them certain characteristics. For example, Millennials lives' center around technology, Generation X'ers embrace technology to a certain extent, Baby Boomers try utilize technology, and the Radio Generation just tries to outlive technology.
Later in the day, we were visited by a panel of people from the Baby Boomers and Radio Generation. We asked them various questions about their life experiences, what advice they would give us, and many other things. They gave us some great answers full of insight and wisdom. We learned a lot from them; such as how they were like as teenagers. One thing that I personally took to heart from the panel, was maintaining a balance between idealism and realism, and not letting realism destroy all of my idealism.
We ended the Saturday by splitting into groups, and beginning work on a skit that would recap everything we learned that weekend.
Sunday morning we spent a little more time preparing our skits, then each group finally presented their skits in front of everybody else. The skits were funny and entertaining. Also the skits helped us to not forget or overlook anything that we learned over the weekend. For example, my group's skit focused a lot on impairments that the elderly can have, so I still remember them very well. I personally enjoyed making our skit a lot, because you get to be creative and funny when making skits. Skits are a very effective teaching tool, because they are an entertaining and unique way to learn about something.
Finally, we cleaned up and left Eastbay Camp, having a fresh perspective, and new knowledge that we would take home with us.