I really could talk about life for hours. Something special happens when you get past small talk to converse about visions for the future and lived experiences that have shaped those visions. Wayne, Natalie, and I had the opportunity to talk to a women who had a great story to tell. When she was 20, she got married and she started her family. Back in the days of the Vietnam War, this was not uncommon, as military families often married young and people married to also get out of going to war. The women we talked to lived through the Civil Rights Movement, saw the aftermath of soldiers coming home from Vietnam, etc. She and her husband are still going strong after almost 50 years of marriage, which is highly venerable. I want to have that sustainable lifelong relationship with my future wife, so the fact that she and her husband were able to do that is definitely encouraging. We all ended up sharing our own stories from when we were 20 years old, and this sparked a lot of conversation about how we got into the Public Health/Global Health fields and what direction we want to go with what we know. Listening to the experiences of others with an open mind will leave you with an open heart by the end of the conversation, and a lot more understanding about where others are coming from.
Today in class, we got rolling again on the HAP's. There are 6 different projects going on, and each of them are heading in a direction towards positive impact in the senior communities we are setting out to serve. My group is setting out to organize an intergenerational walkathon, and we are going to call it "Walk of Life". We have a general location and overarching plan for guidance, but no specifics have been reached. We are going to utilize the knowledge from a past Life Course Scholar and start talking to different social walking groups to see if they would be interested in participating and spreading the word. There are many elder walking clubs in San Diego, and we hope to bring in as many of them as we can for this event. On another note, I am extremely excited for my individual endeavor of making a rap/motivational video to address the topic of ageism, and how reverse the stereotypes against aging. Aging is a good thing because your glass is continually becoming more full, and your abundance of knowledge and experience is something that should be celebrated. I am looking forward to this quarter!
It's official, it has already been a quarter since the life course scholars program officially commenced. It has been among my favorite classes taken at UCSD, as the class is not just spent indoors, it is mainly spent outside and includes interacting with all stakeholders in order to understand the scope of the problem of affordable housing in San Diego.
"Piece my thoughts together see em reading between the rhymes / Reading between the lines, lights in the cracks of the blinds / Open your eyes, and you can see all the beauty outside"
Our other main focus is to analyze the age-friendliness of neighborhoods, and how we can meet the needs of the ever-increasing aging population. In a global sense, we have achieved longevity within our populations. Now, the goal should be to increase the quality of life of our global communities, and focus on the well being of the individual within the context of his/her community. This quarter, I had the pleasure of working alongside my classmates to assess age-friendly neighborhoods, plan proms for senior citizens who often don't get the intergenerational conversations they deserve, and prepare many presentations on topics about ageism and how it affects every generation. Imagining a world where aging isn't viewed as a negative thing is definitely easier to do while being in this class, as the content I learn throughout always leaves me with more hope and gives insight to all of the things we can do to allow people to understand that aging is like fine wine, your fulfillment in life gets better with time.
I can't wait for the next quarter, as we will be immersed in planning our Healthy Aging Projects. Stay tuned for more info about how this class will be striving to make strides in the community, and put a spotlight on the well being of elders within San Diego. Our goal is to create a positive model for others to follow.
The event itself was short, but very worth the effort as the elders who came to participate were happy to change up their daily routines to enjoy a few hours of dancing, games, and food. Upon arrival at the Serving Seniors Center, I was astonished at how fast decorations had started to come together. The preparation process was efficient, so it made it easy to start the event on time, as the venue had a strict time schedule for the event. I immediately started to figure out how to work the music because I was the MC for the event, and I connected with Tanveer as she was in charge of the music selections. MC'ing the event was a lot of fun, as some of my biggest passions are speaking in front of large groups, rapping, and motivational speaking. The crowd seemed to show some energy, and it was my job to push the energy levels higher. Some challenges of being the MC were when there were cold streaks during the raffle, but the most important thing is to keep going and really emphasize the positivity when somebody did win. Meeting so many different people throughout the event was definitely a highlight, and bringing my brother along to experience the event was exciting. It was a great way to start of year 21!
This past Tuesday, our class put on a senior (elder) prom at Casa de Manana. Some got there earlier than others to set up, but everyone was there before the start of the event. When I arrived, I walked in to the extravagant dance hall and found people already setting up decorations. After helping set up some banners, party favors, and taking some polaroid pics with the throwback retro sunglasses (shoutout Wayne), seniors who were living in Casa started to come on in to have a great experience. Immediately, there were seniors wanting to put on the fancy shades and take fun polaroid pictures by the photo booth. The champagne was a huge hit amongst the crowd......too bad they couldn't serve the class haha. I was extremely happy with how the event turned out. I could tell how happy the seniors were to be surrounded by all of us college kids, and that happiness was reciprocated when I saw how they reacted to the event. Seniors were not just sitting down and talking, they were getting up and dancing on the dance floor. By the end of the night, I was on the verge of sweating. Dancing is timeless, and so is intergenerational conversation. I saw the importance of connecting with elders at this event, and I really took some time to reflect and appreciate all of my classmates, as they all have big hearts and motives to fulfill happiness in other people. This event promoted health for everyone involved, and I think we all left the event better people than we were entering.
EndNOTE on a GoodNOTE
When it comes to having a good time, elders have seniority
Respect the ones above in age, start to change the story
Dance the night away, it's timeless and it's a way
To connect and hit a dance move on the dance floor now they're flourishing
The author feels the pain, and so does the one who reads. The author expresses happiness in the literary piece, and the reader feels the peace. Writing allows us to right the wrongs and write what's right. Storytelling allows us to speak for the silent and be heard. Both of these creative forms of expression allow us to connect on a human level. These ways by which we convey our feelings, state the facts, and articulate our stances based on experience or second hand knowledge are grounds for human growth through multiple perspectives. There are three things that I put a compelling amount of value on when it comes to learning through these medians.
1) Listening: Listening to other people's perspectives and being willing to hear the other side of a story is what shapes our comprehensive outlook on life. It is easy to talk to people who share the same values as you as confirmation bias is a natural thing we all look towards as way to reassure ourselves that there are people who are on the same side. This is great, as similar views are what spark compatible relationships. However, if you are not willing see things from all different angles, your knack for empathy will not be as sufficient because you don't know how to relate to someone from a different background. In fact, if you do listen to all perspectives, while at the same time not be afraid to have your mind changed but also have the courage to stand up for what you believe in, you are more likely to be able to connect and network with more and more people no matter what background.
2) Read books that challenge your views: This is very similar to the first point, but adds the emphasis to CHOOSE to allow new information to revamp your thinking. Putting in the time on your own to read and gain insight on issues you previously were unaware of, or simply reading to gain more knowledge on a topic of interest will always be of benefit to you and your life vision.
3) As Michelle Obama once said, "everybody has an unseen history." At a first glance, when you first meet somebody, all you see is their physical experience. You do not see who they are until you begin talking to them and building a relationship. Just because there are some correlations among stereotypes, doesn't mean that persons physical appearance is in line with how they act. You can learn so much from other people and what they've seen, you just need to break the first barrier of judgment based on what you physically see. Word choice and actions are huge determining factors of somebodys character so don't assume somebody to be a certain way until you see how they talk to others and how they act.
This last class, we had a lot of people present on their extraordinary persons. Many of these EP's were parents and grandparents, and it was heartwarming to see the emotional connection people had to their relatives. It was amazing to hear about immigration stories, how people came from nothing and made something of themselves, and selfless determination to make the next generations life better than what theirs was. The spectrum of cultures that was covered through these presentations was vast, and I felt like I learned a lot about people who have completely different backgrounds than my own. I value listening to all stories, and this is something that I put a lot of effort into going out of my way to hear them.
I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to do what I love during class this week: rap! Any time I get the chance to better my delivery and practice my flow, I jump at the opportunity. Normally, I write a rap, fine tune the lyrics, memorize the lyrics, then am able to rap live much better due to my word recall. Today, however, I was not able to memorize my rap, so I had to use my phone and read rap, which doesn't make for the most convincing live rap but it does the job if you put enough cadence and passion behind the lines. The rap was about something meaningful, so it was fun to write about the topic at hand: my grandfathers life. I believe storytelling is timeless, and it has many mediums to which the message can be delivered. My grandfather told me about his favorite three life memories by using his teaching public speaking experience to paint a wonderful picture of all of the life events he thought to be most invigorating. My mode of transmitting his messages to the class was through rap music, and it shows that while generations come and go, the art of storytelling stays, even though the ways in which the story is told is through different creative means. I enjoyed listening to other presentations by my colleagues, as they all told a story of an elder who means a lot to them through different creative ways as well. The project proved two things: there are so many ways to get a message across and engage an audience, and intergenerational conversation is one of the best ways for both elders and young people to learn from unseen histories.
EndNote on a GOODNote:
I shared about a man's life
A mind that's seen beyond mine
Timeless knowledge unwinds
As we wind down to reflect behind
See what makes us feel alive
Mindsets are set to help revive
Learn a thing from anyone and everyone
Ask someone to hop on the line
A lifeline to learn from when you feel stagnant in time
This past week, we had time to meet back in the same room we had our first class meeting at. This was a much needed break from all of the outings we have had, as there was much to debrief and catch up on in regards to book report projects, Neighborhood Age Friendly Assessment Projects, Senior Prom planning, and the Memoir Project. There is a lot due soon, which means a lot to do! It felt like an overload at first, but now I realize it will all be okay because I am working with very creative people and the projects are meaningful and could lead to positively impacting the lives of many. The project I have been looking forward to the most is the Neighborhood Age Friendly Assessment Project. My group and I will be going to Barrio Logan, a very diverse area near Downtown San Diego, to look at social determinants of health and if the layout of the area promotes healthy ageing. We will be talking to community members one on one, and also visiting community centers to hear from the residents of Barrio Logan themselves. Barrio Logan has a lot of people living with low SES, so it is important to look at how to better the lives of the people who are often marginalized. There needs to be a balance of promoting sustainable development and giving goods/resources until sustainable development is reached.
This week, I also presented about ways to combat loneliness within the elder population that is very vulnerable to feeling alone. I presented with Jayati and Wayne, and we ended up having a really good discussion on how to incorporate intergenerational support into combating loneliness.
EndNote on a GOOD NOTE:
Been out and about
Driven different routes
Heard about people's bouts and how they've battled em out
Many need relief, more belief, in the system
Saw shelters but beneath, there were homeless who were out of the outreach
Waiting for the waitlist to take em
After 5 weeks
Time to debrief
And focus on the projects, goals, our visions
Time to collaborate, and generate products from our missions
Make a statement, an impact, through dedicated commitment
Casa de Mañana--The House of Tomorrow. Living within the La Jolla area code automatically comes with many benefits: the seascape, the clean air, the access to a plethora of hospitals and specialized care facilities, walkable paths, plenty of restaurants and grocery stores, safety, etc. La Jolla is a very affluent area of San Diego, and people who can afford to live here get to enjoy the above benefits of being in a small town that has everything to offer. At Casa, seniors have access to a wonderful facility that provides everything from catered meals to assisted living at the building across the street. Most members of Casa are well-educated, with many of them having earned more than a Bachelors Degree. This community of well-educated seniors comes with a hefty price tag, as the baseline price for single bedroom apartments are 3500 USD. This price is very expensive compared to other senior living facilities seen in San Diego, but it makes sense because it is a beachside living facility. If you can afford to be a part of the exclusive community, you receive the all-inclusive benefits of being there.
The staff was incredibly nice, and all of the residents seemed to be very happy with their current state of living. We met a man who was in his 90s who started a choir at Casa, a women who was about to celebrate her 100th birthday, and many seniors who were participating in wellness activities. My favorite part of the outing was when we got to sit down with three seniors, who were all in their 90s, and hear about their life stories and how they ended up in Casa. They all came from completely different backgrounds, had achieved incredible things, and thoroughly enjoyed their time at Casa. I found it cool that one of them was born in the same city my Dad was born in.
EndNote on a Good Note:
Many seniors are relieved
when they have access to wellness and receive
benefits so they don't want to leave
It is imperative
that we pair together seniors and younger adults
to sit down reminisce
advisable to take words from the wise
otherwise we couldn't learn from history unwitnessed
On Saturday, January 26, we were shuttled over to Downtown to commence our tour of affordable housing in Downtown and North Park. Before going on this tour, I had a fair share of knowledge about what transitional housing and needs-based reduced cost (affordable) housing looked like and what it entailed, but I didn't understand the whole scope of the problem, especially for seniors on the brink of homelessness. The national poverty line was set in 1955 and has only gone up slightly to cover inflation, and this is nowhere near the Elder Economic Index of what it actually costs for a Senior to sustain permanent housing in San Diego. For many places with affordable housing, the requirement is that Seniors have to be below the poverty line, and it is based on a vulnerability index VI-SPDAT. However, there are some places that are first come first serve basis, and also places that do not require the VI-SPDAT. For instance, the Serving Seniors housing called Potiker Residence, no VI-SPDAT is required for entry, and the only actual requirement is that the Senior is over the age of 62. The Serra Francis and The New Palace hotels are Single Room Occupancy and they provide transitional housing to Seniors based on a vulnerability index. The PATH housing has a mix of emergency and permanent housing that includes access to harm reduction services. Some of the affordable housing complexes, like Atmosphere and North Park Seniors, look like your everyday, nice apartment complexes and would never think twice that they are affordable housing. These places are very nice, and while (especially) North Park Seniors does have a lot of internal controls built into the practical functionality of the building for seniors (like color coated floors for people with dementia), the housing facilities often come with extremely long waitlists due to the scarcity of enough affordable housing in San Diego. These affordable housing complexes that we saw should be models for ones to come, and government expenditures should really focus on the paradigm of housing first to prevent more unsheltered homelessness from occurring, especially for the ageing Senior community of San Diego.
EndNote on a GOOD NOTE:
We cannot afford to have more unsheltered Seniors/ Affordable housing, we need more through the measures/ The places already made, make for great models for future/ Better in a room than the streets, regardless of features/ many like-minded people are ready to be the hope dealers/ and make room for more Seniors to age in peaceful leisure