In the fall 2014 inaugural capstone course for the Southern Connecticut State University Journalism Department, nine journalism students interviewed senior citizens to share the biggest change they have experienced or seen in their lifetime. Each student was required to interview three people over the age of 75. One of the persons could be a family member, and one at least one had to be someone of a different race. The oldest interviewee was 102. These are some of the many interviews. For the students, it was an eye-opening, emotional, thought-provoking and humbling experience that left an indelible mark on their lives.
“This was a first-time experience talking with elderly people (for a story). The biggest challenge was how do I approach them.”
“We’re kind of trained (that) it’s rude to ask people their age…But I feel like that’s when the professors kind of took us back and said for this assignment you are a journalist and you need to ask those questions and challenge yourself and put yourself in those uncomfortable positions.”
“We really had to focus our questions on what the changes were. When you ask questions to elderly people they sometimes go off on their life stories.”
“He kept reiterating how he just wanted people to get along and be peaceful and the world to keep improving.”
“My grandfather he didn’t really know what to say so I said that’s OK, just take me back to a time like where (you) saw (yourself).”
“I had the challenge of making (the story) flow. She had so much good information and she didn’t have just big significant change to focus on.”
“The hardest part that I had to deal with with my writing was definitely the changing format. I’m so used to writing news stories every week that having the freedom to just actually use the word ‘I’ (was different).”
“Talking to older people is like just — so liberating I think because they experienced so much and yet they’re saying we’re the generation that has it hard — and I just can’t believe that at all.”
“I wish we had done (this) last year. Before my grandma died.I really never talked to her…I would just pick up the phone and say hi and bye and hang out with friends. When I was actually writing this article I was thinking about my grandmother and damn, I wish I could go back and open up to her more and talk to her. This whole experience really made me appreciate my last grandmother and my grandfather too.