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Communication issues

You joined Key Club for a variety of reasons: to serve others, to have fun, to gain new, unforgettable life experiences. And you hoped to learn from the Kiwanians and faculty advisors who act as your mentors. But the generation gap that separates you can often seem like a communication gap.

The truth is, Kiwanians and Key Clubbers have a lot to offer each other. Here are some tips on how to bridge that communication gap and get more from your Key Club experience.

Mutual mentors

Embrace adults’ experience and share your own skills and talents with them

Leave your comfort zone.

Don’t avoid mentors because you think you have nothing in common. Get out of your comfort zone—nothing interesting happens there.

Always introduce yourself.

Even if you’ve met someone several times before, make a point of saying hello and sharing your name.

Laugh loud—and often.

Nothing breaks the ice like sharing a laugh. Be willing to joke around—let your sense of humor shine through.

Respect their time.

If you’re going to be late, or can’t make it to a meeting, call in advance. A little everyday politeness goes a long way.

Ask for advice.

After all, that’s why Kiwanians and other advisors are there. They have years of experience and lots of advice to offer—give them a chance to share it.

Find common bonds.

Key Clubbers and Kiwanians are more alike than different. Many Kiwanians are athletes, artists and musicians—just like you.

Be curious.

Kiwanians love to share. Ask them about their interests, hobbies and families. Chances are you’ll be surprised by what you learn.

Avoid “text talk.”

Be mindful that adults may not be familiar with the slang that’s common among you and your friends. Talk in plain language. 

What’s in it for you?

Being in Key Club means participating in exciting service projects and growing your leadership skills, all while having fun with friends. But you can gain even more if you build strong relationships with your Kiwanian mentors, according to Key Club advisor Mary Bowen.

Being in Key Club means participating in exciting service projects and growing your leadership skills, all while having fun with friends. But you can gain even more if you build strong relationships with your Kiwanian mentors, according to Key Club advisor Mary Bowen.

Bowen (better known as “Crzy Mry” among Key Club members at Fridley High School in Fridley, Minnesota) says Key Club has reassured her that the world is in “good hands.” But she adds that Key Club members and Kiwanians don’t always take advantage of what one group can offer the other.

“They don’t always know how to talk to each other,” she says.

Bowen has seen firsthand how bonds between Kiwanians and Key Club members can enrich lives, not to mention prepare Key Club members for life after high school, where they will encounter people of all ages. That’s why she urges Key Club members to make a real effort to get to know their Kiwanian mentors.

“They’ll probably be baffled to hear that some of us play in dance bands, go snow skiing or sky diving, are gourmet cooks, write books, make jewelry or run marathons,” she says. “We may look old, but many of us have interests that match theirs.”

When Key Club members and Kiwanians finally make that connection, magic happens. “It ignites a conversational fire,” Bowen says. “That’s why my advice is ‘Ask questions, ask questions, ask questions.’ You’ll find a common bond somewhere, for sure.”

Talk to adults

4 ways to connect with Kiwanians

Get the most out of your interactions with Kiwanian mentors. Follow these tips:

1. Open your mind. Be willing to see beyond age. Many Kiwanians are young at heart and still love activities like sports, music-making and more.

2. Lend a hand. Kiwanians could use your help in different areas, from carrying things to figuring out how to use technology. Ask them what they need.

3. Put your best palm forward. Shake hands when being introduced.

4. Make good eye contact. Always be polite and respectful. Show them you’re listening and ask questions.