Partnerships preserve personal histories

TURLOCK — It might seem odd to pair students in a child development class with senior citizens.

But that's what Run Jin does in her Child Development in Cultural Context course at California State University, Stanislaus. Students enrolled in the class work with older folks, making scrapbooks to share their stories and preserve their histories.

"They're learning about the stages of development," said Brett Foray of the university's Office of Service Learning, which coordinates the project. "What better way than to work with senior citizens who have been through them and raised children?"

Students get their senior partners through The Salvation Army. They work together regularly through the semester, gathering photos, clippings and mementoes into books that tell stories.

The pairs presented their projects Tuesday afternoon in The Salvation Army gymnasium.

Student Helen Guidino-Arguelles told the story of Eleanor Hendrickson.

"From the beginning, we had a lot in common," Guidino-Arguellas said. "Her life is immersed in music and my daughter also plays."

Hendrickson's family started Turlock's Hendrickson's Music, and the musical theme continued throughout her story.

"She really touched a lot of lives in the community," Guidino-Arguellas said. "Music is the heart and soul of their family and their happiness."

Several students talked about the project taking on a life outside a school assignment.

"We've really found a friendship," Guidino-Arguellas said.

Others described learning about history through their subjects' personal experiences, whether it be wearing dresses made of flour sacks or growing up in a foreign country.

Many of the participants found more in common across the generations than they expected. Just about every presenter noted the importance of family to both sides of the partnership.

Tracey Robinson discovered a whole new way of thinking through her partner, Robert Lynch. She described Lynch's longtime participation in Scouting, and his extensive involvement in the community.

"He projects this image of pride and honor and bravery," Robinson said. "He really elevates everybody around him."

She learned probably the most important lesson of the project:

"Just because people get older doesn't mean they get less interesting."

Bee staff writer Patty Guerra can be reached at or 578-2343.