Caring for the Elderly

By March 9, 2014Blog

By Kevin Kim

Last Sunday, Lambda Phi Epsilon volunteered at the Seattle Keiro Rehabilitation and Care Center of Nikkei Concerns. Two vastly distant generations spent the visit by exercising in physical activities and sharing stories of the evolving Asian American identity*. In the Japanese language, Keiro means “respect for the elderly.”

Philanthropy Chair Kenton Nakamura evinced the value for youth to embrace their cultural history. “As a third generation Japanese American, I felt out of touch with my Japanese heritage. Neither my parents nor my grandparents spoke fluent Japanese, and I only experienced Asian culture through food and funerals. Being able to speak to Japanese Americans who lived through World War II really reminded me of how little I know of my family history.”

Allured by the ethnic diversity of volunteers, the nursing home residents communicated to each Lambda Phi Epsilon brother through his native tongue in languages such as Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Mandarin. Through these connected interactions, brothers found common ground with their elders and learned about the unique struggles residents faced over the turn of the century. Upon the close of the visit, Nikkei Volunteer Coordinator Megumi Sherrill commented, “Your group made our residents so happy. Thank you for making every day the best day for residents.”

* Due to patient confidentially, photos or names of nursing home residents will not be shared.