Why I am Best Friends with A Ninety-Year Old

By: Jackie Kim

Ever since I was young, I’ve had a great relationship with people who were older than me. I’ve always loved visiting my grandparents’ home, something that plenty of my peers despised. I’ll certainly never forget the time when my grandma whispered in my ear that I was her favorite grandchild and the feeling of guilty satisfaction and pride that welled in my heart. Later, when I moved to America in middle school, I was on texting basis with the majority of my teachers in each of the schools I attended.

During high school, I discovered my love for the nursing home. I found talking to and interacting with the residents naturally easy and comfortable, and it wasn’t long before I started traveling to the home twice a week to provide company to the senior citizens. Whenever I walked into the toasty nursing home, the residents’ faces melted into crooked smiles. I loved how they called me “Jackie Wacky” and “Honey,” how I always had to assure Audrey that I’ll always love, how Carol snuck me the centerpiece after I told her I loved flowers, and how Ken always asked for a kiss before I left.

Coming from a small boarding school in the quiet town of Exeter, New Hampshire, I didn’t know whether I’d make friends who were as close to me as they were in middle or high school, let alone friends who were older than me. Having lived with girls of all different years in dormitories for the past four years, it was strange for me to enter a freshman dorm. As I met freshman after freshman during the first few weeks of school, I yearned for the wisdom and guidance that older friends offered me and the humility and sympathy they always showed. I longed for the late night advice sessions in a senior girl’s dorm room and the maternal love that some residents gave me at the nursing home.

Joining American Language Institute as a conversation partner during my second semester once again restored my faith in making friends from all different backgrounds. When I was paired up with a senior and a graduate student, I was excited and nervous. They were going to be one of the first few older friends I would make at USC, aside from the upperclassmen I knew as mentors or organization leaders.

Fei and Hyunjoon, my two partners, went above and beyond my expectations. As we exchanged stories about our childhoods and times at USC, they made me forget the fact I was a freshman and truly seeked and enjoyed my help. With our love for food, Fei and I often shared meals together, while Hyunjoon and I often talked about our lives back in Korea. Fei and Hyunjoon respected my opinions and heeded to my lessons in English and in this way, my eyes were opened to the boundless ways that education and learning presented itself in the world.

Having recently finished my first year at USC, I can only thank ALI immensely for opening my eyes once again that, in the face of friendship and education, age is inconsequential, in contrast to what many think. The limits that friendship and education surpass are incredible and meaningful, and that is why I was able to call one of my best friends an eighty-eight year old, and why I’m able to call some seniors and graduate students some of my closest friends here at USC.

Featured image from Pxfuel

Jackie is a freshman majoring in Business Administration, with potential minors in Computer Science or East Asian Studies. She has lived all over the world, from Korea to Singapore, to various parts of America. She is fascinated by cultural diversity, and her goal in life is to become a diplomat for the United Nations. Jackie also has a lot of school spirit because she absolutely LOVES USC. Fight on forever!