A generation of people is regarded as all of the people born and living at about the same time, regarded collectively. But there is so much more to it! Each generation has its own culture… its own fashion, music, and vernacular lingo.
There are currently six generations still alive in America today. The oldest of which is the GI generation: those born from 1901-1926 to children of World War I who went on to live through World War II. They remember living through the Great Depression and have generally been regarded as community-minded, strong individuals with deep loyalties. The Mature (or Silent) Generation were those born between 1927-1945 growing up in a world of conformity and structure but later embracing postwar peace. This generation is known for their strong morality and near-absolute standards of right and wrong. Baby Boomers arrived on the scene between 1946 through 1964 and embraced peace, love, and happiness with optimistic and opened minded personalities. Generation X was born from 1965 to 1980. History will remember them as entrepreneurial and very individualistic.
Enter Millennials. Those born between 1981-2000. Born in 1983, I guess that makes me a millennial, although, truth be told, I have never identified as such. From birth, we have been told we are special and we expect the world to treat us that way. Each generation wonders whether or not the generation before them was the best. I contemplate frequently about my parent’s generation. Baby boomers…. hippies and free-love seem to speak to the soul. My parents idolize their World War II parents, calling them “the greatest generation” ever to live. America is also a melting pot, with immigrants reshaping our cultural and generational landscape for the better.
To hear the word millennial nowadays is almost associated with a bad connotation. But what if these millennials were evolving into quite possibly one of the best generations to come? Meet Generation Z. Look out millennials… we may be in for a run for our money. Generation Z-ers have grown up with computers and web-based learning. Five-year-olds now know more about cellphones and laptops than we did finishing college. As each generation contemplates the impact they will leave on society and the world, it helps to see those working so hard to make a difference.
One such young man is Nalin Dang. Nalin is a senior at Randolph High School with aspirations of helping to reshape not just our community but quite possibly the world. Nalin became inspired by his grandmother’s journey to find, not just adequate, but exemplary memory care for dementia. As his family pulled together to find effective treatment, particularly at home for an affordable price, Nalin, at 17-years-old, realized the Tennessee Valley did not yet have such a program in place. Most teenagers would have acknowledged this and moved on. Struggles of homework and teenage responsibilities are enough to keep any high school student busy, right? But Nalin decided to build his own in-home memory care program when his grandfather was later diagnosed. Nalin’s grandfather thrived with the program. The family was thrilled with the results, so Nalin then made the choice to dedicate more time and energy into creating a program to offer memory care assistance to others in need, free-of-charge.
In 2017 Nalin launched We Can Remember HSV. We Can Remember is a non-profit organization created to help those in need to maintain or improve their memory function over time. Memory loss affects the majority of our society’s elders. These members of society are some of our greatest national resources. They hold stories and information that educate us on our history, helping us understand just why we are the way we are. Nalin sees them as national treasures and works tirelessly to ensure their mental capacities and strengths are optimized. He appreciates that some of our greatest lessons can be learned from these older generations.
We Can Remember is an eight-week program offering specialized memory care exercises based on the severity of impairment. Nalin’s goal throughout the program is to help the individual recall more of their memory. Ongoing in-person memory exercises will continue to minimize forgetfulness and aid in maintaining function. Nalin and his team of volunteers strive to complete the program in four weeks, but work as long as it takes to achieve improvement in their patients. Each patient session has various memory exercises. A volunteer from We Can Remember is sent to the elder’s house to work on improving memory skills through specific games and activities, making the lesson both helpful and enjoyable for the participant.
I made the (wrong) assumption that Nalin had created We Can Remember as part of a school project or extra-credit assignment. That will teach me to assume. Nalin dedicates countless hours of his free time to work for those with memory impairment. He is a family oriented young man with hobbies not unlike those of other teenagers. He enjoys hanging out with his friends and several extra-curricular activities. His role models are his parents, Paul and Neeta Dang, both local physicians. He is quick to say he is not exactly sure what direction his college ambitions will take him, but that he is intrigued by neuro-science and hopes one day this passion will manifest into a career. He is also inspired by Stephen Hawkins and both his physical and intellectual journey through life. Nalin finds it admirable that he never let his physical impairments, with all the struggles and doubts they entail, derail him from studying the origins of the universe. Nalin is also greatly inspired by his older siblings, Rajan, Sumeet, and Sabina: a physician completing his ENT residence at Washington University in St. Louis, a Harvard law graduate, and a medical student at Vanderbilt respectively. Nalin tutors piano in his spare time. He has also volunteered at Clearview Cancer Institute and Manna House. Clearview later brought him on as a medical assistant to help in a research study involving Multiple Myeloma.
George Santayana once said, “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it”. After getting to know Nalin Dang, I think he not only embraces this concept, but is actively making strides to ensure that our generations with the most knowledge of our history are able to access the great gift they bestow. In this age of coming into our own and creating makeshift confidence, it’s refreshing to see a young man use not only his intellectuality, but also his free time to make the world a better place. Nalin Dang and the Generation Z he represents is serving up some pretty stiff competition for the rest of us.
For more information on We Can Remember please visit WeCanRemember.info