I’m done with junior year and back at home! It’s exciting to be done with my year, crazy to think that ¾ of college is over, and wonderful to be back with family. Since the semester has ended, I went to Vietnam (for a Harvard program teaching high-schoolers and I taught one on “The Rise of Heart Disease”) and Japan (for fun for only a day). It’s been quite a whirlwind! I have sent pictures to my friends and family of my travels, including to Nancy’s* family. I know that she will love the wonderful pictures I sent - some seen below!
In addition, the semesterly annual family letter is due. Our program is in a special position to highlight and celebrate the parts of our buddies that we have come to know and cherish. This can be really important to family members that see what their loved ones have lost. Hence, the family letter really showcases what our volunteers love and know about our buddies. Below are some tips that HCAB sends out to volunteers to help them think, reflect, and write the letter to the buddy’s family.
(1) Help reconnect the family member(s) with your buddy. Your buddy’s family members have probably seen a decline in their loved one’s cognitive function, whereas you’re seeing what’s still present. Reflect on recurrent names, places, themes, values, or memories from your conversations with your buddy. Try to connect those conversations to the memories and values still treasured by the family.
(2) Show the families what you’ve gotten out of the experience. Show them that their loved one is still having a positive impact on the world. This may be something simple or a visit that really brightened your week; it just has to be sincere.
(3) Celebrate what you value or admire in your buddy. What traits, routines, or experiences make your buddy special?
Given that I just came from Vietnam and Japan, I decided to send a letter to them in person, rather than the typical route of emailing the letter. I know that Francie’s family really likes tangible letters and would appreciate a thoughtful gesture. So, I used some beautiful stationary from Japan and added a postcard featuring Sapa, Vietnam. I hope they like it!
*Names changed for privacy