NJPAC Community Engagement presents PEARLS OF WISDOM: AN INTERGENERATIONAL CONVERSATION SERIESHigh school and college students looking for straight talk and advice from people who have been there and done that - namely, their elders - are invited to attend and participate in "Pearls of Wisdom," a free series of timely conversations hosted by the Community Engagement Department of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC).

The three-part, intergenerational program, held on Thursday evenings at the Express Newark space in the Hahne & Co. building, was launched on Sept. 28 and continues on Jan. 25 and May 24. A panel of veteran community leaders engages students in discussions of current issues in the realms of activism, education, arts and culture.

"These enriching and informative talks succeed in running both ways," said NJPAC President and CEO John Schreiber. "For each topic, our senior speakers draw on a deep knowledge built on life experiences, while students offer a fresh perspective on the challenges they confront on a daily basis."

The concept for the series grew from a proposal by NJPAC's Council of Elders, a subcommittee of Community Engagement's Advisory Council, to find meaningful ways to interact with young adults.

"The Elders Council is passionate about sharing knowledge and ensuring that the future of young people in the community is positive and productive," said Donna Walker-Kuhne, Senior Advisor, Community Engagement. "'Pearls of Wisdom' was created in response to the council members' desire to help kids make smart choices."

Deborah Smith-Gregory, president of the NAACP Newark Branch and chairwoman of the Council of Elders, said the panels also draw parallels between the sociopolitical climates of yesteryear and today.

"Oftentimes, elders feel that they have insights to pass on, but that they're not valued or don't have the outlet. This gives them a platform to describe their experiences and bridge the past, present and future," she noted.

"Pearls of Wisdom" takes place from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Express Newark, 54 Halsey St., Room 213. Although admission is free, advance registration is requested at njpac.org/community or contact Carmen Samuel at csamuel@njpac.org or (973) 297-5138. Street parking is free after 6 p.m.

Upcoming programs include:

  • Thursday, Jan. 25: "Passing the Torch: Reclaiming Our Communities." An intergenerational discussion to better understand the roots and roles of culture in the community and how to ensure its survival. Participants include members of NJPAC's Council of Elders and Rutgers University students.
  • Thursday, May 24: "Parallel Worlds: 1968 & 2018." How much has changed - or hasn't - in 50 years? Where do we go from here? Join the conversation as comparisons are made between then and now to envision tomorrow.

The debut discussion on Sept. 28, titled "Old School Tools for New School Cool (What Your Mama Didn't Teach You!)," offered advice for students returning to the classroom. Smith-Gregory moderated a panel that included artist and educator Gladys Barker Grauer, former Star-Ledger columnist Joan Whitlow, and community activist Earl "Street Doctor" Best.

New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), located in downtown Newark, N.J., has the most diverse programming and audience of any performing arts center in the country, and is the artistic, cultural, educational and civic center of New Jersey - where Great Performances and events enhance and transform lives every day. NJPAC brings diverse communities together, providing access to all and showcasing the state's and the world's best artists while acting as a leading catalyst in the revitalization of its home city. Through its extensive Arts Education programs, NJPAC is shaping the next generation of artists and arts enthusiasts. NJPAC has attracted more than 8 million visitors (including over 1.6 million children) since opening its doors in 1997, and nurtures meaningful and lasting relationships with each of its constituents.

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