Our first CAS activity was to visit
the old people’s home
"As IB students, we live extraordinary experiences! A lot of them come from our CAS program, which helps us open up to the world around us. This year, we went as a group to the Residencia Savia. For those who don’t know, the Residence Savia is a home for the elderly. As a student with limited Spanish skills, I was wondering how I could be of any help. My question was quickly answered. When we arrived to the residence, all the elders were watching us, with excitement in their eyes. The women were whispering to each other, with huge smiles on their faces, and the men were watching us curiously. We were introduced to the head nurse, who explained to us their routine, and how things happened in the residence. She told us with a desolated tone that a lot of the residents had no one visiting them. She continued by telling us how we could help with the school. By visiting them once a month, we could definitely increase their level of happiness! So after this short introduction, we were lead to different rooms. There were three different activities planned for the day. I went to play domino. I was fortunate enough to be placed with some of my Spanish friends, who took care of the introductions. We were playing against two elders; Fernando and Julia. They were all lovely people, and they took their time to teach me how to play domino and the game started. One game after the other, we played for an hour without a break. I can say without a doubt, everyone in the group was enjoying the time we spent all together. Of course Fernando and Julia have been playing domino for a lot longer than us, and they took turns in winning the games. Soon the competition was between the two of them, and all us students agreed to always let one of them win. But in the end, no one cared who won, because we got carried away gossiping. All we had to do was ask a simple question, and the two elders were lost in their memories, telling us everything they remembered, and always coming back to how amazing their grand-children were. Listening to them was amazing! All the things they had to say, it took us to visit their past, a time completely unknown by our generation.
Evidently, as students we learned a lot. Not only about the people in the residence, but we learned how to listen to them, how to be patient with them, (as you get older, you unfortunately get slower too) and we learned how simple things can make people so happy. After the elders had to leave us for lunch, we had a short lesson on the sad reality of those people. The head nurse said something that shocked us all for a few minutes. She said “Any of them could die at any moment.” And from this you think, the other residents have to watch their friends fall one by one, waiting for their turn to come. It’s a scary thought, but it’s a reality we will all have to face at one point. When I left the residence, I was happy to learn that we would be coming back a few times. The thought that we are their little piece of happiness once in a while makes me smile. And the thought that I can help and make someone happier, makes me happier too!
By Lydiane Dubreuil Y13
The morning we spent at the retirement home was really pleasant. It is great to share time with elder people as they are wise, they all have interesting stories and they appreciate your visit. Personally, I played domino with two men that were by far better than me. They were old, but they were good. I admire their cordiality -something that nowadays it is more difficult to find in society- and their unhurried way of living. Some of the elders may looked unhappy or just tired, but it is understandable as in some cases their daily life is not easy. However, I felt that our visit made that day in some way special for them. I sincerely hope that they had enjoyed the time we spent with them as much as we did.