There are two stakeholders in Minds Across Generations: the students and the residents. We have become attached to the community, surprised at the regular attendance, robust and thoughtful questions, and encouraged by the comments shared by both researchers and residents. Students have described the experience to us as “meaningful,” “invigorating,” “encouraging,” and “eye-opening.” Residents have described the experience as “stimulating” and “delightful.” John, the Director of Education at Lasell Village, reflected on the program that it “helps curious and thoughtful people of different generations meet and share the joy of truly lifelong learning.”
Sarah Schwartz, a PhD student in the MIT Microbiology program who spoke about phylogenetic trees, commented on the experience and its positive benefits:
I really enjoyed designing a talk for experienced thinkers with little experience/exposure in my specific field. It gave me a chance to think constructively about the best way to communicate my science and the freedom to design a talk that was both informative and interesting to people with diverse intellectual backgrounds.
The students consistently highlighted the engagement of the audience as a pleasant surprise. Randi Williams, a PhD student in the Personal Robots group at the Media Lab who spoke about teaching artificial intelligence to children, said that “the audience was extremely engaged and several people approached me afterwards to talk about how my work related to or could be useful in their own lives.” Randi also commented on how the audience had “razor-sharp focus” and wasn’t “afraid to ask the hard questions.” Margery Silver and William (Bill) Hamilton, both residents at Lasell Village, expressed delight at the program and exposure to new topics. Margery enjoyed “learning about things I never knew existed” and Bill enjoyed “seeing what these young minds were doing and where all this might lead. I didn’t have these kinds of experiences while I was at MIT and would have enjoyed opening my mind this way.” Both residents and students learned from one another and learned new perspectives on research, including their own.