Bridging the gap between generations
We talked to Sawang about his part in our joint project with the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, Face to Faith, where via live web chat, he spoke to students across the globe about issues that affect older people, their faiths and beliefs.
Why did you decide to join the video conference?
I was a school teacher and taught English to children aged 12-15 for four years as my first job so I accepted the invitation immediately to join the video conference to talk to the children.
I have also been working with and for older people, poor and lonely older people in particular. I have seen the increase of nuclear families not only in Thailand but also in other countries in Asia whilst extended family has gradually disappeared. This change has widened the gap between the generations; grandparents and the grandchildren.
It's such a good idea and wonderful opportunity to talk to school children from other countries; to share with them and learn from them what they think of older people in their society. I hope that it will somehow narrow the gap between the two generations.
What did you talk about?
I introduced myself, my current work and my previous work. I also gave a brief profile of Thailand and my reasons for working with and for older people.
I also talked about my work which focuses on assisting disadvantaged older people in Thailand, and how it relates to children.
I talked about how Thai people pay respect to their older people which is the same as Indian and Pakistani society as mentioned by the students.
This picture illustrates this sentiment: "When we are small we were taken care by our parents. When they are old, in return, we take care of them.
What were some of the comments from students that were interesting?
The video conference is such a good way to provide opportunities for school children and older people to communicate across the world.
It's great that school children are interested in ageing issues. People may think that in Asia, younger generations always take care of older people, but it is not always the case.
In poor families where both young and older are struggling and many migrate to study or work, older people are often left behind.