7 Memories; Partnering to Write a Memoir is the required textbook for students of “The Life Course Scholars Capstone Project” under Urban Studies and Planning at the University of California, San Diego.

Patricia Benesh, Ed.D and UCSD Life Course Scholars discuss the legacy of the “Memoir Partnering Method.”

(UCSD Life Course Scholars description) “In this course, students deepen and apply their knowledge of policy, research, practice, and diverse perspectives on aging. Students participate in collaborative learning and research with local elders, and develop and implement a capstone “healthy aging project” in the community.”

I had the opportunity to train the “Life Course Scholars” in the “partnering method” this past weekend. The students are embarking on a history project that involves each in interviewing an “extraordinary person (EP),” someone older than 55 who has had an impact on the student’s life.

Student goals embody the importance of this intergenerational “partnering” approach that creates a legacy for the EPs and the students.

Said one student, “I’m interested in hearing the context that shapes the way my EP thinks about things because often, I do not agree with his opinions and views. Different opinions are important and can hold valuable lessons. I think one important part of listening to views that are different from your own is trying to also understand the context that shapes the opposing view. Hopefully, that can help me better understand why my opinions with my EP can conflict due to our different experiences.”

Said another student, “What I hope to get out of this project with my EP is a great bond but also an even greater communication between us both that allows me to have input about her history and how that has shaped who she is. But also become more aware of her traditions, beliefs/values, heritage, reflections, aspirations, dreams, her personal traits and much much more. I would also like to honor everything I learned from her and be able to speak about it with friends and family and keep a legacy going that can be past from one generation to the next. For my EP, I would like her to feel happy that her traditions etc. will continue to be passed on generations but also that she always has someone who she can count on.”

And finally, ““I hope to document my grandmother’s extensive and rich story. When I initially asked my grandma if I could interview her, she was surprised that I wanted to know more about her. She seemed to think her life as average. I would like to help her see that she is an extraordinary person and that her stories and experiences are deserving of remembrance.”

The 15 students are engaging with grandparents and other older adults—the challenges include the logistics (many EPs live outside the U.S.) and the 12 different languages spoken among the EPs. The final projects will be in the native languages with English translations of significant excerpts.

Many thanks to UCSD Professors Leslie Lewis and Mirle Rabinowitz-Bussell for the opportunity to work with these Life Course Scholars. And great appreciation to 7 Memories Associate, Carolina Bracamonte for her help with the student training.