The First Introduction – Life of I Project

As I finished my social media certificate at George Brown College, I became acutely aware that I suddenly needed to get experience to make myself a candidate for future jobs. So I started volunteering. Over the summer, I volunteered with CPAWS’ “Paddle the Rouge” event, and wrote about the amazing experience. I needed more experience though, so I signed up to work with the Life Of I.

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Life of I meets at a local church hall

Life Of I is a really interesting project. Essentially, we’re talking with people from other generations and telling their stories through digital storytelling. When I signed on, I thought that the project would be like Story Corps, one of my favourite storytelling projects I’ve seen online.

I realized though that I was only touching the surface with this comparison.

See, the seniors group that we are working with have various stages of dementia. And I have never actually worked with people suffering from dementia. I didn’t quite know what to expect.

I headed into meet with the senior I’d been partnered with this afternoon, my nerves growing as I got closer. “What am I going to talk about?” I couldn’t help but wonder. I knew the basics of what I’d like to go over, but I couldn’t help but feel like it wasn’t enough.

When I finally got to meet with my Life of I partner, all those nerves both boiled over and then quickly settled down. He was very sweet.

I wish I could turn around and say that it was easy to talk to my Life of I partner, but there were quite a few times where there were obstacles in our conversation. Sometimes they were from me, not quite sure where to go with the conversation, and sometimes they were because my partner had a lot of trouble putting his thoughts together at times.

I thought I was prepared – I wasn’t.

I started by just introducing myself, and then tried to ask questions about where he was born, what he had done for work, and his hobbies. We got through half an hour by talking about work and Netflix. I just wanted to keep things casual because I wanted to make a good first impression.

Next week, I know I’ll be going in with a much better set of questions. I’ve found some great ones online, and have been using the StoryCorps app to get more questions as well.

If you were telling the stories of another generation, what would you focus on? And if you have experience with people who have varying levels of dementia, do you have any advice on how I can excel?