by Monique McIntyre, Generations United Intern
Generations Remixed, the 2017 Global Intergenerational Conference in Milwaukee is less than a year away! We’re getting age-amped about it and so are some of our past conference attendees. Matt Kaplan, for example…
A professor of Intergenerational Programs and Aging at Penn State University, Matt attended his first Generations United conference in the late 1980s. For him, that conference was not only a good experience, it led to the development of the New York State Intergenerational Network (NYSIgN) and many rewarding long-term relationships with Generations United staff and its members and partners.
Since then, he’s been a regular participant at the Global Intergenerational Conference. And 2017 will be no exception. Matt is looking forward to learning about new intergenerational models and research from all over the world, including exciting work that is taking root in the Midwest. He’s heard some interesting things about St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care, Generations United’s co-host of the 2017 conference, and is looking forward to experiencing this intergenerational shared site firsthand.
Matt believes it’s important to attend the biennial conference because it reminds practitioners to evolve beyond single-focused activities and disconnected programs. The conference showcases family and community support systems, policies, networks, coalitions and cultural traditions that cross sectoral, disciplinary, cultural and national boundaries.
Most importantly, the conference keeps him on his toes, Matt confirms. Since he’s been doing intergenerational work for some time, he feels he has a pretty strong handle on the field. But at each conference, he realizes there is always more to learn. For example, Matt recalls writing about the profound impact intergenerational programs could have on how people view other generations. Then he heard a conference presenter cite research indicating a person who learns to challenge their negative age-related stereotypes is able to change both how they perceive others and themselves. After that, he modified his writing to express the mutual benefits associated with intergenerational exchanges. He also broadened his view of the intergenerational field as rooted in the health and human development fields. Upon meeting folks at past conferences from fields such as architecture and anthropology, he began looking at intergenerational studies as an exciting, interdisciplinary field.
Matt values the conference because the intergenerational field is still in its youth and much remains to be explored. The conference is an opportunity to broaden the field so it makes a larger impact on people’s lives and contributes to the goal of building a better, more caring society.
By the time the conference ends, Matt says, he feels energized and a renewed sense of belonging to a movement that can do far more than anything he could do alone. Many of his friends and colleagues who attend Generations United’s intergenerational conferences year after year feel the same way. They reconnect at conferences and recommit themselves to working harder to make a difference in people’s lives.
Want to feel as energized as Matt? Register here for Generations Remixed, the 2017 Global Intergenerational Conference!