Every Story Matters
Ray Wheeler, a retired project manager, never dreamed he'd write memoir and – of all things – poetry. But that's just what he did last spring in Whitworth's student-led Writing in the Community course. Wheeler, who lives at the Rockwood at Whitworth retirement community, says he loved every second of the experience. "You could feel the energy and enthusiasm from the Whitworth students and the Rockwood residents," he says. "We took our assignments seriously, and a bonding took place between the students and residents." Associate Professor of English Nicole Sheets, who created the Writing in the Community course, says her students, through designing and leading the weekly workshops, gain real-world experience, develop their leadership skills and creativity, and more. "Working with various community groups helps make us better listeners and makes us more aware of what's going on in our city," Sheets says. English major Taylor Meredith '22 co-led Wheeler's workshop and says a primary goal was helping participants realize their ideas matter and their stories have value." It was amazing to hear the histories of the participants," she says. "Every one of their stories deserves to be told."
When Am I Old?
By Ray Wheeler
The question "Am I old?" keeps going through my mind. And what does "old" really mean, anyway? Is it the age of a person? If so, what age would you say is old – 40, 60 or 80? Les, who’s 100 years old, exercises on a NewWay machine with his cellphone tuned to his music and all of that set up for the Bluetooth to his hearing aid. Does that sound old? Methuselah lived to 969 years of age. But then you would need to decide if that is fable or truth. What does age have to do with getting old? Is it our health that makes us old? Or could it be how we look? Does our outward appearance actually make a difference? Is it the wrinkles, the gray hair, the bent position of our body, the number of pills we take? Maybe, but probably not. Could it actually be our self-confidence and attitude toward life? When we look in the mirror or remember the past, do we smile or frown? Do we remember the good times or the bad? Is it taking the hard things as just part of life? Is it laughing in the face of the rough times? Are we happy with who we are and have been? Do we look forward to today and hope for tomorrow? Maybe that is what staying young is all about!