Blogging: Adult Learning & Education Among Older Persons

– S. Renee Jones. Traveling and conducting research in Santiago, Chile as a 100k Strong-Gabriela Mistral Scholar was an amazing experience.  In a world where the focus seems to be on how people are different, it was refreshing to interact and connect with the people of Santiago based on our shared experiences and hopes.  It has been my philosophy that as people we are much more alike than we are different, and it would be great if we would focus more on our similarities instead of using our differences to divide, ostracize and marginalize people. I found that the Chilean partners with whom our research team interacted wanted to establish a connection with us based on similarities.  Once our team was introduced to the various groups, we would be approached with stories to build common ground, and we all reached out to connect across languages. Additionally, the groups with which my team worked were very engaging and welcoming.  Some of the research participants were involved in more than one group and seemed to be pleased when our team attended more than one group activity, welcoming us as old friends. As I observed two separate workshops for older adults, Taller De La Memoria and Taller De Radio Teatro, I was struck by how effectively the facilitators used adult education principles when leading the workshops.  These workshops were conducted in a similar way to my adult education doctoral classes.  I was excited to see these techniques applied in a nonformal setting and in a different part of the world from mine. Attending these workshops was especially exhilarating for me since my area of research is older adults in higher education.  I learned that older adults in Chile are viewed and face similar challenges as older adults in the United States.  This revelation stimulated and expanded ideas for my doctoral research. It was such a blessing and honor to be a part of this wonderful experience.

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