GCD – Community Engagement

During my time in Washington D.C. during the summer, I spent a total of 5 days in August (a total of 25 hours) working at the Hebrew Home of Greater Washington, which is a nursing home that my great grandfather and grandmother used to reside at. There, I worked at two separate buildings, the Smith & Kogod Residence, and “The Ringhouse.”

The residents at The Smith and Kogod Residence was for residents who all needed an intense level of physical care and many were not capable of speaking. Many also had mental illnesses such as dementia. There, I assisted the recreational therapist during his sessions. I had to act, I had to do puzzles with the elders, play chess, etc.

To be completely honest, I had rather mixed emotions at first about the Smith and Kogod Residence. It was rather eerie with all the mentally impaired elderly patients around me, talking to themselves, sleeping motionless in the mainroom, some would even scream and moan in their rooms. Not everyone was completely miserable, though. As mentioned earlier, I had to do recreational therapy, and acting (charades, but for some reason they called it “guess the word”) was one of the parts. I felt very silly acting for recreational therapy, because I’m rather introverted when it comes to strangers. But having grandparents who are of very old age of my own who are lucky to not have a physical/mental disability at their age, I understand from an ethical standpoint that no one would want their grandparents to be miserable, waiting to die. This was the thought that let myself know that I wasn’t throwing away my pride in introversion for nothing.

At the Ringhouse, me and another volunteer ran technical assistance sessions that were meant to help the elders that needed help with their phones, email accounts, etc.

I had never tutored or taught people before, so this was a new skill that I developed. Some of the elders there were completely new to the concept of how important remembering their passwords is, and so at first I was somewhat impatient with the minuscule amount of knowledge they had regarding the internet and technology. I assumed the understood what an “email address” was when some of them were confused when I used that term. For some of people, I had to learn to explain emailing as a whole, from the very fundamentals of creating an account and how to use one for some of the users. In the end, the elders needing assistance ended up satisfied, and I was able to develop my ability in tutoring and explaining concept and ideas to people.


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