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Love Caravan connects students and seniors

By Eric MacKenzie

A Love Builder volunteer teaches calligraphy to a senior at one of the non-profit’s events earlier this year. 
Love Builder photo

A Love Builder volunteer teaches calligraphy to a senior at one of the non-profit’s events earlier this year. Love Builder photo

The Love Caravan is hitting the road this week as a group of young volunteers aiming to make connections between cultures and generations locally are now looking outside B.C.

Love Builder — a non-profit that includes several international student volunteers — has spent the past year dropping in at facilities for seniors, demonstrating elements of their own culture, and sparking conversations with elderly members of society who may feel isolated.

Now in partnership with Latincouver, the group is launching the Love Caravan Cross-Country Tour, with 10 students from various cultural backgrounds travelling later this week to meet with seniors in the prairie provinces and Ontario. They’ll make their first stop Saturday in Edmonton.

The volunteers may perform music, dance or demonstrate crafts from their individual cultures while interacting with seniors. On each tour stop, the Love Caravan group is also connecting with local youth organizations to join them.

Brent Yan, an advisor to the students on the tour, said the Love Caravan initiative encourages young people to become invested in their personal, cultural touchstones that would otherwise “gradually fade away,” while also engaging with seniors who genuinely appreciate the volunteers’ visits.

“Through this program, we can encourage kids to inherit or feel proud of their own (culture’s) art, join together and bring them to the seniors,” said Yan. “So it’s a multifunctional program.”

The tour will reach as far east as Ottawa this summer, stopping by at least 10 seniors’ homes over three weeks, but the long-term vision is much greater. Yan said the volunteers hope to reach all 10 provinces in future years and to inspire young people they’re meeting with along the tour to take similar initiatives in their own communities.