Kuala Lumpur "Living Library" Bridges Generation Gap in Asia

Kuala Lumpur "Living Library" Bridges Generation Gap in Asia

A “living library” project in Malaysia’s capital is lending out older people’s knowledge to the young, to improve the lives of pensioners and bridge Kuala Lumpur’s generation gap.

It links groups of students with retirement homes so older people can discuss the challenges they face living in the city.

The project is run by the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Community, an international network of young professionals from business, academia and civil society, seeking to make a positive impact in local communities.

“We rotate the students around the elderly,” said Renard Siew, a “curator” with Global Shapers, which has more than 375 hubs around the world. “We allocate about one and a half hours for the Living Library session, and then we all eat together.”

“Some of the elderly folks were lonely and isolated because they felt their next-of-kin had dumped them at this old folks’ home,” the 32-year-old told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Image: The Sun Daily
Image: The Sun Daily

As well as sharing their life stories, the elderly participants also discuss safety issues in Kuala Lumpur, such as how long pedestrians get to cross roads and uneven pavements.

The young people draw on those chats at workshops where they chew over solutions to the problems troubling older people.


Set up in 2016, the Living Library project organizes up to three sessions with retirement homes each year, but would like to hold them monthly to meet demand.

The retirement homes involved declined requests to interview elderly participants.

Marcus Lim, 39, one of 23 “Global Shapers” in Kuala Lumpur, said the Living Library conversations start with pensioners’ life stories and move on to present-day challenges.

“Most of the young people feel inspired by the old people - what can they do to help them to live better?” said Lim, head of the business school at Swinburne University in Sarawak.

Source : Reuters

Indah Gilang Pusparani

Indah is a researcher at Badan Perencanaan Pembangunan Penelitian dan Pengembangan Daerah Kota Cirebon (Regional Development Planning and Research Agency of Cirebon Municipality). She covers More international relations, tourism, and startups in Southeast Asia region and beyond. Indah graduated from MSc Development Administration and Planning from University College London, United Kingdom in 2015. She finished bachelor degree from International Relations from University of Indonesia in 2014, with two exchange programs in Political Science at National University of Singapore and New Media in Journalism at Ball State University, USA. She was awarded Diplomacy Award at Harvard World Model United Nations and named as Indonesian Gifted Researcher by Australian National University. She is Researcher at Regional Planning Board in Cirebon, West Java. She previously worked as Editor in Bening Communication, the Commonwealth Parliament Association UK, and diplomacy consulting firm Best Delegate LLC in USA. Less
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