Intergeneration Month is celebrated every September as a way to appreciate perspectives of all ages. It’s a great time to converse with people from generations other than your own. Whether it be family members, colleagues or even a new acquaintance, it’s important to observe viewpoints from all ages of life. The origin of this month-long celebration began in the year 2000 with Sandy Kraemer during her efforts to research intergenerational issues. This sparked conversations across the globe on monumental topics regarding economics, education, environment and above all, the future.
“The next generation will always surpass the previous one. It’s one of the never-ending cycles in life.”
— Masashi Kishimoto
Here are 3 things to consider this during this Intergeneration Month:
- Gain new and invaluable insight: The depiction of an entire generation depends on who you ask. With four major generations in play right now: Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials (gen Y) and Centennials (gen Z), some individuals have labeled the combination Generation Warfare. Now more than ever, there’s a gap between ideals. Opening a medium of communication between generations provides valuable insight into fascinating perspectives. Organizations such as Bridges Together offer events to promote intergenerational discussions. It is important to collaborate on large issues with all generations to integrate past solutions with today’s challenges. You may hear from a child that no one understands what they are going through; but they may be surprised to discover that adults have experienced similar issues and can offer different solutions. Reaching out to someone outside your age bracket may be more informative than you think.
- Fill the gap: Each generation may understand the aspects of their own generation. However, if you ask a Baby Boomer about their perception of Millennials, they may consider them as spoiled and drivenless individuals. Millennials may believe Baby Boomers are stubborn and antiquated, and some go so far to blame them for the economy and the state of the world. From the outside, it is easy to criticize one generation with false depictions of the whole. With so many conflicting lifestyles, connecting between generations is the key for solutions to modern life challenges.
- Think to the future: Tackling the world’s greatest problems of today such as the three E’s (environment, education, economy) is not a one person job. When evaluating a problem, Albert Einstein once said that if he “had one hour to save the world he would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem and only five minutes finding the solution.” The way to find the best solutions for today’s riveting challenges is together. It takes time and effort to improve our understanding. Creating a platform of communication between all generations will allow the greatest amount of insight.
In the modern world, it may be easy to go about life without ever having to branch out of your lifestyle. In honor of Integration Month, attempt to connect with someone outside your generation such as an older colleague as a mentor or a younger person as a technology resource. Get involved with organizations such as The Plaza – that strive to promote intergenerational connections through exercise and learning. Enlighten and learn from others unlike yourself as we all share the same world.
“Wherever there are beginners and experts, old and young, there is some kind of learning going on, some kind of teaching. We are all pupils and we are all teachers”
Sharon Schweitzer and Vienna Raglin co-wrote this post. Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural trainer, modern manners expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE centre, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. She is the resident etiquette expert on two popular lifestyle shows: ABC Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend and CBS Austin’s We Are Austin. She is regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, Fortune, and the National Business Journals. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, now in its third printing, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards and the 2017 New York City Big Book Award for Multicultural Nonfiction.
Vienna Raglin is the Marketing and Sales Manager at Access to Culture. With a professional background in Sales and Hospitality, she earned a BBA in Marketing and Sales from Texas State