For class on Wednesday, we debriefed each of the HAP’s and had our class potluck. There was so much food! And I had another class potluck afterwards so I was so full by the end of the day. I really liked the Filipino desert that Chloe brought. I enjoyed hearing about everyone’s HAP’s while we ate and was glad that we all had great turnouts. It was a bittersweet class since it was the last one. On Thursday, I went to the Healthy Aging Symposium during lunch time. I wish I had been able to stay longer to sit in on one of the sessions. I did, however, get to talk to some attendees who stopped by our exhibit. At first, no one was there because it was lunch time, but afterwards it was crowded with people. They loved how our HAP posters came out and also the posters from the oral history HAP. Many were curious about who we were, what our posters were about, and what the debunking ageism assignment was since they were displayed at our table. Some even tried to take the print outs home! Each one really appreciated us debunking ageist myths and would say things like “Finally!” or “Thank you!”. Telling people about the LCS program really reinforced all the things that we have learned over the past two quarters. I thoroughly enjoyed and learned so much from this class as well as met amazing people along the way. I will truly miss our cohort!
On Saturday, my group had our walkathon HAP at Balboa Park. We had told our participants to meet at the senior lounge, which was at first hard to find. However, it turned out to be right in the middle of the park. I have been to Balboa quite a few times and I have never noticed the senior center before. I was really shocked! It was a bit hard for our group to find the senior lounge so I was worried that the seniors would also have a hard time finding it. To my surprise, the different walking groups piled in and were ready to go. I was excited for the turnout. At least 30 seniors showed up, which was a big difference from last year’s walking event. I was proud of my group for putting in the hard work to make our event a great size. At the beginning, I was in charge of handing out the snacks so I was able to mingle with some of the seniors. Some of them remembered us from the West Center. We gave the seniors a shirt for coming and I was excited that many of them wore the shirt. I was the one who had created the design for the flyer that was on the shirt, so I was proud that everyone was repping my design. On the walk, some seniors were fast and others were slower so I think we made a good route length to accommodate the wide spectrum. I was surprised to hear that some seniors wanted our route to be longer and the pace to be faster. Apparently, some of them walk at least 10,000 steps every day. One thing I wish we had done was have the front person use some sort of object, like an umbrella, as a marker to guide the group. Since there was a huge gap between the faster walkers and the slower ones, it was hard to tell where to go. I also wish we had played music during our walk to make it more upbeat. After our walk, we did a drawing for raffle prizes. It made me happy seeing the seniors excited for their prizes. Overall, I think we had a fantastic turn out and it was a Saturday morning well spent talking to seniors and learning about how they have made their lives more healthier by being active.
This week in class we first presented our Debunking Ageism projects. For my Debunking Ageism project, I partnered with Neena and we made an infographic about the myth that “seniors don’t contribute to anything in society and can’t learn new skills.” One of the points that we talked about was the ‘grandmother effect’, which is a two-way benefit where both seniors and children have better health when they have frequent contact with each other. This is often seen in a lot of blue zones of the world where people tend to live longer than average. I liked some of the other projects too, such as the subtle aging traits twitter page, memes, and changed beauty product labels. They were all fun ways of debunking ageism! Then, we gave each other advice on our HAP posters. So far, I liked everyone’s rough draft and think we are going to have a beautiful symposium. Since my group’s event is happening after the poster deadline, we will have to finish our poster quickly after our HAP in order to get it in on time. However, we have a big group so it should be more manageable to do quickly. I am excited for our HAP to happen this weekend. It feels like we have been planning the walkathon for so long that I can’t believe it’s finally here! We have 33 RSVP’s from different senior walking groups that I am excited to meet. I know that some of my friends that I invited can attend as well. I’m hoping for a successful turnout!
In class this week, it was nice to catch up with each other and go over our schedule for the rest of the quarter. First, we debriefed our experiences at the West Center. It was cool to hear about the others experiences with their senior. The one I found most interesting was the woman Tan talked to about going on the bus every day from Chula Vista to the West Center. She lives with her daughter, but she doesn’t know that she goes because she would feel like a burden asking her daughter to give her rides. It made me a little sad to think that seniors feel like a burden to their children when they’ve done so much for them. However, I thought it was awesome how she was so determined to find a way to explore San Diego on her own. I would be concerned about my safety if I was her. We also gathered in our HAP groups and went over our progress. I am excited for my HAP because everything seems like it is all coming together. We decided to make a google form link to make it easier for the seniors to RSVP and a Facebook event to advertise our event easier. I was able to share the event with my friends and some of them said they were interested in coming. Additionally, a group of 10 seniors from a walking group has said that they were coming. Jayson was able to map out a route that is 1.5 miles in Balboa Park that went through nice areas of the park. The only thing that was tricky to figure out was rest stops and an area for our post-walk picnic. On the other hand, we have sent in our orders to the professors so we can have our materials ready for the walk. I hope we have a good turn out because we have been working hard to bring this event together!
This week we visit the West Center and did another portion of our LEG talks. I talked to this 76 year old woman named Joy Sun. She had said how she picked her own name when she came to the U.S. from China. She came in 2003, but has been in San Diego for the past six years. She’s always happy so that is why she picked Joy and the sun is bright and gives light so that is why she picked Sun. She didn’t speak English very well, but Sallie did a good job in translating for us. Joy told us her how her favorite hobbies are to travel, walk, and volunteer. She’s traveled everywhere in the U.S. and all around the world, including Italy, Japan, and Australia. Joy said how she can’t walk as far anymore so she doesn’t travel much. Now, she volunteers are the West Center every day for a couple hours. She is the only mandarin speaking volunteer so she has made many friends and has called the West Center her home. After she volunteers, she goes on a walk to the USS Midway. I saw her pedometer and her steps were consistently around 10,000 or more steps. I was really impressed with how active she was in her community. Joy originally came to San Diego because her daughter worked here. However, her daughter got another job in Seattle and moved away. Joy liked San Diego and made many friends here so she decided to stay. She knew that if she moved with her daughter, she would be stuck taking care of the kids and doing the house chores. She has another daughter who lives in Washington D.C. and a total of three grandsons. I enjoyed talking to Joy and seeing that she was living her best life as an independent senior, defying the stereotypes that label seniors as old, fragile, and helpless.
This week in class, we checked in with each other about how our week was going. It was definitely comforting to hear about the other seniors being stressed about graduation and life after undergrad. It’s definitely been something that has been constantly on my mind this quarter and it just blows my mind to think about how time went by so fast. It still feels like it was just yesterday that I was a lost little freshmen. We then did book presentations on the first part of John Leland’s book. I really enjoyed reading this book because it made me reflect on my own life and wonder if I’ll feel the same emotions as the seniors when I become their age. I was one of the presenters for my group and, let me just say, I really didn’t expect to get so emotional. One of our discussion questions, “At what point do you honor your loved ones wish for DNR over your own desire to keep them alive?” brought up all the thoughts that I’ve been harboring inside regarding my own parents. Seeing two of my best friends go through unexpected familial losses made me realize that my parents are also getting older and that death is inevitable. It taught me how important it is to live in the present and not stress so much over the future, like the book emphasizes. Happiness is truly a choice that I can make with the right mindset. I was glad to see that my own emotions touched my peers as well because it showed that this question is a conversation that needs to be discussed among loved ones. Days like this remind me how glad I am to be taking this class and how much I’ve learned in it thus far.
Today, we met up earlier in front of Casa de Mañana to talk about our HAP’s. It was so nice to work outside because the weather and the scenery were beautiful. Even the professors agreed so much that we took a group picture in front of the ocean. Afterwards, we went inside to meet more seniors for the LEG activity. The senior woman that I talked to was named Deetta. When I told her my name, she told me that people often think that her name is Deanna. I thought that was interesting because people always think my name is Diana. Deetta mainly talked about her life of traveling. She has traveled to all seven continents and almost all the states in the U.S. except for North Dakota. Her most memorable trip was to Antarctica, where she saw a ship almost sink. I was impressed with her amount of traveling given that she had nine kids. I asked her how did she find the time to travel with having so many kids. She had done all of her traveling when she retired and all her kids were grown. At 20, she was close to graduating college with a degree in sociology and psychology. She was also engaged as well to her husband, who was an engineer. For her career, Deetta became a teacher for special needs kids for 25 years. I was amazed at her life and how she has been able to age gracefully at 91 years old. She most definitely had an interesting and fulfilling life and I hope to be able to travel as much as her one day.
I was glad that we had a late start to class this week because it seems like I still cannot catch my breath this quarter. We did not go to the same location as we did last time when we went to Bayside, but right across the street from it. I was a little bummed that we could not do Zumba with the seniors again this time since the new location was smaller and was not able to accommodate all of us. However, I remembered that some of the seniors that we did Zumba with last time were here at this new location. It warmed my heart knowing that these seniors were continuing to stay active in their community and that some even remembered us from last time! Additionally, I enjoyed the LEG activity that we did with the seniors. It was really interesting to learn about the seniors lives at our age. The senior woman that I spoke to was from out-of-state. At 20, she did not know what she wanted to do and her brother thought it was unacceptable for an unmarried 20 year old to be doing nothing. So, she moved to California with her brother and got a certificate in typing. She then got an office job, where she met her husband. She had said how a majority of her coworkers were men and that not a lot of women were working at the time. After she met her husband, they got married, had three kids, and has stayed in California ever since. After telling her story, she asked each of us where we were from and what “ingredients” we were made of. I thought it was a bit odd of a question until I realized that she was trying to ask about our ethnicity. She praised us for being in college, pursuing a career and reminded us that we may end up somewhere else besides California like herself. Her statement made me wonder if I actually was going to move somewhere else and almost scared me because I cannot imagine living anywhere else. The future can be overwhelming, but when I think of these seniors and how far they have come, it does not seem so bad after all.
I enjoyed seeing everyone on the first day of class. It was interesting to hear what everyone did during their spring break. I know I definitely took this break to recoup from last quarter. Thankfully, this quarter seems to have a more manageable workload. We went over our HAP’s this class period and it was good to do some more planning. I felt that it was a little difficult to get a solid proposal over break because everyone had different schedules so I was glad that we had more time to work on it. I am a part of the walkathon group so we mainly went over which possible locations and dates that we might choose. We found that Mission Bay would be our best option since there is a clear paved path and pretty scenery. We additionally shortened the length of our walk because we realized that it would take a while for seniors to walk a 5k. I had also let my group know about an elderly woman that I met on my plane ride back to San Diego and she had told me that she was a part of a walking group called SD Walkabouts. I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to invite her group to our walkathon. She seemed thrilled about the event and said she would spread the word to her group. There is still much more that my group needs to discuss, such as the budget and advertising, but we have made good progress.
When the dance began, I helped distribute the raffle tickets as the guests entered. They were all coming in so fast that I could not rip the tickets fast enough to give to the next person. However, I was glad to be the first guest to greet them. I thought it was very cute that some came dressed up. My favorite was this man’s sequence-patterned tux. I also helped set up the photobooth and games area. Since the dance was carnival themed, the games were ring tossing and bean bag throwing. I think the seniors enjoyed playing the games and even the prizes that we gave out. I heard one senior say she was going to give her prize to a little girl. The best part of the dance was when the prom king and queen were crowned. For a second, I did not know that they were a couple so when I figured that out, it made watching their dance much more special. I could see how happy the queen was dancing with all the attention on her. I hope we made her feel like a million dollars. Overall, I noticed how the people at this dance appreciated us more and the things that we were giving them. I could see their faces brighten up every time they won something for the raffle. A drawback that I felt with the dance was that it all seemed a bit rushed and the series of events were a bit unorganized. I felt as if the dance went by so fast and that there was not enough time to do everything at a slower pace. Maybe three hours should be allotted for the dance instead of two next year. Other than that, I think the dance was a success and am glad I could to participate in an event like this! At the end, the class took a group picture, but I missed out on it because I was in the bathroom. I was a little bummed, but hopefully I can get photoshopped in!