Sunderland’s young and old build new bonds

International Students from Sunderland University with members of the U3A. The students gave talks to the U3A at one of their travel group meetings and was so successful it went on for and extra half an hour, and another has been scheduled
International Students from Sunderland University with members of the U3A. The students gave talks to the U3A at one of their travel group meetings and was so successful it went on for and extra half an hour, and another has been scheduled
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OLD and young have joined forces and built a new friendship.

Members of the Wearside U3A (University of the Third Age) have been swapping stories with foreign students from the University of Sunderland.

U3A, an educational group for the older generation, invited the students to a meeting of its travel group and asked them to speak about their home countries.

Doreen Lloyd, 84, is a founding member of the branch, the oldest in the North East, and is in charge of the travel group.

“We have a good relationship with the university and thought it might be a nice idea to ask some of the foreign students if they would be willing to speak to our travel group,” she said.

“About six of them came along to the meeting and gave presentations about Slovakia, Poland, Romania and Indonesia.

“They said they enjoyed it, as they don’t really get to meet any average residents from Sunderland.

“They only really meet other students and it gave them the chance to talk about their countries.”

The students gave presentations to the 40 U3A members and answered any questions they had.

Jan Spalek, student contact officer at the university’s student union, said: “It was interesting to see the interaction between the foreign students and the U3A.

“A lot of the time, people think students only drink and make a nuisance of themselves.

“This was a nice way of creating partnerships and connecting with different people.

“The evening overran so much and was such a success that we are going to schedule another.”

The U3A meets at the Bangladeshi Community Centre, Tatham Street, once a month.

The group also visits the university’s campus and attends public lectures and workshops.

Doreen’s husband John also helped to start the group in 1993 when they were both 64.

“Since then we have built a good relationship with Sunderland University which we will keep going,” she said.

“The event shows the connection between the two universities, between younger and older generations as well as different countries.

“The students were impressed by the curiosity, attentiveness and kindness of the U3A members.

“On the other hand, the U3A members have learned something new about different cultures and countries from one of the best sources, the students themselves.”

Twitter: Monica_Turnbull