Introductory nursing students at Mankato State University are going beyond the books this semester.

As part of an intergenerational experience students have spent the past few months befriending residents from a local nursing home.

"The focus of it is for students to have hands-on learning, and through this project they've been able to build relationships, and even further yet, bring about an awareness in the community," faculty member of MSU's College of Nursing, Becky Gerdes says. 

By applying concepts like teamwork and advocacy through an array of activities, residents are able to share stories with students while spending one–on–one time with them.

"They can hardly wait for the students to come. Many of them have formed relationships with the person they've been paired up with and that relationship will be long–lasting," Gerdes says. 

But this opportunity is a benefit to both parties.

"On campus there's a lot of middle–aged young adults going to class and we don't get to hang out with younger people or elder people," MSU nursing student, Ryan Junes says. 

As students realize the impacts of stepping outside of their comfort zone and into a sense of belonging and purpose in giving back to their community

"Life is so fast–paced and busy and they, a lot of times, teach me to slow down and enjoy the little things," Junes says. 

This is the first semester the course has implemented this program, and Gerdes says it won't be the last.