For my stretch experience, I embraced two international opportunities – an internship at the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Centre for Health Development in Kobe, Japan and attendance at the International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics (IAGG) World Congress in San Francisco, USA. These international experiences build on my interest and previous experience in the field of aging and health.
Prior to university, I worked as a Research Assistant in the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta. After my second year of university, I received a Roger S. Smith Undergraduate Researcher Award and subsequently a part-time Research Assistant position to work on a national research program that focuses on aging and technology (AGE-WELL NCE). In addition to my ongoing work on this project with the network, I undertook a research study of my own focusing on dementia and design. In 2016, I applied for and won an Undergraduate Researcher Stipend to pursue a study at De Hogeweyk; a world-renowned dementia village in Weesp, Netherlands. In June of 2016, I travelled to the village to conduct an ethnographic study.
To build on these experiences, this summer I travelled to Japan and the U.S. to learn about aging in contexts other than Canada. At the WHO, I conducted a literature review on the living arrangements of older adults worldwide. While in Japan, I also had the opportunity to visit local seniors housing and meet with Japanese officials about community social innovations for aging. At the IAGG, I participated in the Global Social Initiatives on Aging Master Class (which focused on “Population Ageing and Liveable Environments for Older Persons”) and toured innovative senior centres and residences in both the Bay Area and in Silicon Valley.
Population aging is both a global success and a global challenge. Thus, I am using my leadership skills and knowledge to learn about aging issues, to learn from those in the international research community, to learn about various responses to population change including those global innovations and successes that can be applied to the Canadian context.
By Mackenzie Martin, BSc Human Ecology/BEd Secondary Education student