Intergenerational conversation brings together OLLI members and Mason students


Members of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at George Mason University and students from the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution explored their lived experiences and had the opportunity to talk about their feelings, opinions, and thoughts regarding the current events surrounding Israel and Palestine.

Two people stand in sillouette at the water's edge at sunset at Point of View retreat center
The Dialogue and Difference Project aims to promote cultural, political, and social understanding through the process of community dialogue participation. Photo by Evan Cantwell/Office of University Branding

The March 20 event was organized by OLLI, the Carter School, and the University Libraries, which provided informational resources for the event. Carter School’s Dialogue and Difference Project was used to facilitate the conversation.

OLLI is a Mason affiliate organization that offers intellectual and cultural experiences in a welcoming atmosphere to Northern Virginia residents in their retirement years. OLLI Mason Executive Director Jennifer Disano called the event a major success and a model for future intergenerational conversations across Mason’s campuses and beyond.

“Not only did this event create a meaningful intergenerational dialogue, but it also provided a real-world opportunity for student facilitators to practice their skills,” said Anne Osterman, Dean of Libraries.

The Dialogue and Difference Project team offers student-led group facilitation to encourage and facilitate meaningful discussions, leading to better understanding between individuals and groups.

OLLI member Pat Bangs said, the event “was a unique and valuable opportunity for OLLI members and students to discuss issues that are important to us, in a setting that allowed passionate, conflicting opinions to be voiced in a respectful manner. I was reminded of the diversity of this generation and have great hope for their future contributions."

OLLI member Richard Crawford seconded the value of the event, saying he gained insight into how social media influences students’ understanding. “I was impressed with their analytical approach to conflict resolution,” he said. “What [the students] may lack in experience is offset with their critical thinking and intelligence.”

Event participants voiced enthusiasm for planning and participating in future intergenerational conversations, recognizing their value and significance.