My name is Carolina Atala I am currently finishing my last year at American University I am pursuing a major in Public Communications and a minor in Latin American Studies, this semester I am volunteering at Vida Senior Centers connecting it with the last class for my minor, Latin American Woman Writers.
This center is a type of day care center for the elderly community and specifically it is the only center that caters to the ever growing low income Spanish speaking community in the whole Washington DC area. The nature of my work at the center varies but it is a mix of more administrate work in the upstairs offices like entering data to the DC Office of Aging registering how many lunches were distributed that day and how many members attended the recreational activities and such. But since I have an educational background in Communications Ms Pizzi the Center Director gave me a task to set up a Facebook page, update the information on the Web Site and to set up a page for the center on GoFundMe.com, which is a crowdfunding website. Other than this work when I’m at the center I like to just sit and listen to the “abuelitos” which translates to the grandparents, which is how we lovingly refer to the elder at the home. They have some great stories and they like to reflect and reminisce on the past and tell me what they learned and give me advice on life, and I on the other hand love receiving this kind of wise advice.
I guess my expectations from working at a home were more or less to understand how the human body and mind ages, and it’s been really interesting to see that life is a cycle. We are born and we need to be cared for by our parents because we can’t make decisions and then we grow up into adulthood and everything is about making decisions and where these decisions will take you, once you grow old you suddenly stop making decisions and have to be cared for again and slowly start preparing to leave the earth. It’s a melancholic thing, sometimes the human body ages and your brain stays young and your spirit is positive, but other times it’s depressed and lonely and the body is prone to illness, both mental and physical. Working with the elderly has prepared me to know what’s next for me and for the people I care about, I have gained unique wisdom from both the people I work with and work for, and most of all I have realized how really blessed I am to have an education and use it to my potential.