It's hard to tell who is learning more -- the residents or the volunteers at Carol Woods. High school and college students spend time with residents almost every day of the week. And while they are here, the students enrich the lives of residents by doing things as simple as lending a hand to read mail or tape record stories a resident wants to pass on to grandchildren.Carol Woods has 15 high school student volunteers from Chapel Hill and East Chapel Hill highs. They are on campus to fulfill their "service learning" requirements and to acquire experiences that will last them a lifetime and help them in future job endeavors. Pam Johnson, the resource coordinator in the Department of Well-Being at Carol Woods, works with the students and residents to match up each one by finding similar interests. Once the match is made, Johnson watches as the students become amazed by what they hear and observe residents doing in their personal lives -- working, traveling, enjoying art, music and other active hobbies. "The key to it is to get them to have a personal experience right away...the magic begins immediately," Johnson said. Ten interns from local colleges also are gaining experience in the aging-services field and some find their interests shifting in a new direction. In the last six months, three student volunteers have switched their interest from psychology, business and working with children to the field of gerontology.A UNC student from South Korea who originally studied political science was involved in the Assisting People in Planning Learning Experiences in Service (APPLES) program, which required her to volunteer for 30 hours and write a research paper. The student was assigned to Carol Woods to experience an environment where she would gain learning experience and have the opportunity to work closely with residents. As her relationships grew, her interests took a different turn. Because of these experiences, she decided to switch from a political science major to working in gerontology.Volunteers never find themselves doing the same tasks each day. A 100-year-old resident recently requested that a student come to her apartment and polish her dresser. Other volunteers find themselves talking with residents for hours.Some students come because of academic requirements, but there are others that miss their grandparents or are just interested in helping. Johnson said that residents want to be around younger people and are fascinated by what young people are doing these days."When they meet real kids who are willing to volunteer and give back to the community, it just gives them so much more hope for the future," Johnson said. A lot of residents do not have families that live locally, and this chance for interaction is a special treat to those who miss their grandchildren.Joan Ewing, a Carol Woods resident of about seven years, calls volunteers "our feet." These students complete tasks for the residents that may seem simple, but can be difficult for someone who is going through physical challenges. The residents greatly appreciate volunteers doing such chores as picking up and writing greeting cards, updating address books and depositing checks. When asked what Ewing likes best about having volunteers around, she replied, "They supply us with energy we need." Brandon Isley, a UNC-Chapel Hill senior, is volunteering at Carol Woods for his Adulthood and Aging class requirements. Isley stays busy by also working at a group home in Asheboro, at Abercrombie & Fitch, at his apartment complex in Chapel Hill and still finds time for his academic and volunteer priorities. Isley's experience with residents has opened his eyes to the aging-services field, and he has enjoyed his time spent with them. He views coming to Carol Woods as a refreshing activity because the residents are so lively and active.Isley recently was introduced to Gladys Matthewson, a Carol Woods resident of 10 years, who enjoyed strolling around the buildings and pointing out all the sights to Isley. Matthewson and Isley both grew up in North Carolina and enjoy discussing their towns.When asked whether he would ever consider going into the aging services field, Isley replied, "Up until today, I was definitely leaning towards 'no.' Meeting Ms. Matthewson actually did a lot to change that. Spending the little bit of time walking around with her having her explain things to me -- I really enjoyed doing that."Isley said he has learned a lot from the residents. "Being here and talking to the many residents over in the health center, I've learned about NASA, the CIA and its beginnings, about North Carolina," he said. "I like listening to stories. It's a lot of fun."Matthewson enjoys spending time with Isley and likes to tell the students and other young people that "if they ever need anything, just call me."Jenny Eller, a social worker in the Assisted Living Center and a former Carol Woods intern herself, had originally planned to go into hospice care before her year-and-a-half-long internship. A UNC-Chapel Hill student, Eller had a mentor in graduate school that placed her at Carol Woods, and the rest is history. The biggest reason that helped Eller decide to go into long-term care was seeing Carol Woods' mission being put into practice."The philosophy of care, the position of Carol Woods, what our mission is, how devoted they are to helping students, and helping promote aging in the community was evident in everything that happened here," Eller said. "You hear it all the time -- staff doesn't just say, 'We have a vision, we have a mission', staff members live by it."Carol Woods social worker LaShandra McLaughlin enjoys being involved in helping students make meaningful and lasting impressions on the residents. McLaughlin helps identify residents that could benefit from additional support and provides supervision support for the volunteer and resident. "Carol Woods creates a great space for learning positive things about older adults," McLaughlin said. Her two interns include a Shaw University student who is completing a bachelor's degree in social work and a UNC student who is working on a master's in social work."Carol Woods is a unique place, and our resident population is very unique," McLaughlin said. "For the students, it gives them a different perspective on aging."