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Learning for the Ages

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SAGE Program Brings Seniors and UMD Students Together


Gerry Ralph, co-chair of SAGE  
Gerry Ralph, co-chair of SAGE

“I really underestimated the intergenerational wisdom that could be passed from a senior to a college student before I went to the Senior Forum,” said Matt Weber, UMD student and the Chair of Congress in the Student Association. Weber has been participating in intergenerational courses for the last two years through the Sharing Across Generations (SAGE) program, offered at UMD's University for Seniors.

The courses offered to students through SAGE are Senior Forum and Great Decisions. Senior Forum is a philosophical course in which participants engage in discussions about topics they choose and try to deepen their own philosophies through dialogue. Great Decisions was designed by the Foreign Affairs Association of New York. Participants watch a DVD about certain global issues and then discuss those issues.

“These courses allow seniors to hear how young people feel about the world.” said Neil Storch, who along with Gerry Ralph, is one of the co-chairs of SAGE. “Students, who have participated in this program, remind us we are not young anymore and that our view of the world isn’t always right.” Storch is a retired UMD History professor, who taught at UMD for 36 years.

Weber believes the seniors have a lot to offer younger students. “Their experiences growing up have taught me a great deal about how far we have come as a human population, as well as the comparison between the unique challenges that each one of our generations have faced. It also gave me an opportunity to voice my own opinions on the current issues today, giving them the perspective of the ‘youth’," Weber said.

“The University of Seniors members have lived through the times which the classes are about,” said Joie Acheson Lee, director for Leadership, Kirby Student Center. “Students aren’t learning just from a book. They get to hear stories and interact with these individuals. These members are invaluable to the students and the UMD community.”

SAGE and the Kirby Leadership Institute (KLI) have been working together for many years. Students in KLI are required to take courses about leadership and connect with the community. Students who are working toward the KLI Leadership certificate have to take at least twenty hours of leadership and diversity workshops among other requirements. Students can fulfill some of these hours through the Senior Forum and Great Decisions SAGE courses.

"This is a very enlightening experience," said Weber, who will graduate this May. "More students should take advantage of this opportunity."

For more information, students should visit the KLI website.

About the University of Seniors
The University for Seniors is a program for individuals, age 50 and older, that provides opportunities for intellectual and cultural development. SAGE programs include being practice-patients for Pharmacy students, setting up practice interviews for students going into teaching English, being participants in practice courses for students teaching computer skills, and working with International Student Services to put on events.

For more information, visit the University for Seniors website.

Written by Katarina Menze, Mar. 2014


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