This week, the class went to the Bayside Community Center to attend an event called “Life at 20”. This was a good opportunity for us to get to speak with more seniors about their lives, and we all got to share a part of our lives at 20 years old. At first, we were waiting for quite a bit of time outside because there was a Zumba class going on, but eventually, we went in. During our time at the Center, a few of my classmates and I spoke with Tammy, a sweet, kind woman who immigrated from the Philippines. She told us her story about how she worked for someone who owned an antique shop. Her job at the antique shop provided her with lots of unique experiences that have become forever ingrained in her memory. One of the most interesting experiences that I took from our talk with Tammy was her encounter with the former first lady of the Philippines, Imelda Marcos. She told us about how she thought she never would have gotten the chance to meet her if it were not for her job making her go on a work trip. Also, she talked about how her job experience allowed her to go on work trips, all paid for by her boss. Tammy talked about how her boss wanted her to travel the world and see different things outside of the Philippines. As she talked about her life experiences, it had me in a reflective, reminiscent mood. Her life experiences provoked me to think about what I want to do in the future, and how I want to make the next chapters of my life the best it could possibly be.
And… we’re back. It’s week 1 of Spring Quarter and our class is getting ready to work on our projects for our Healthy Aging Projects (HAPs). Before we workshopped on our projects, we spent a bit of time getting reacquainted with one another, reflecting on what we did during our Spring Break. Then, it was time to get down to business.
We wasted no time getting into our groups and discussing our HAPs. I’m working with Maria, Amena, Chloe, Nicolette, Alisa and Emily on a beauty salon project for seniors to relax and appreciate their natural beauty. I wanted to incorporate my passion for fashion (haha, see the rhyme there?) into this project so others can feel their best selves. This meeting was quite productive because we all have a desire to provide a luxury treatment to the seniors of the West Center.
To be completely honest, this project seems quite daunting, but I believe that our group will be able to manage the logistical aspects of this project. I love this project because it allows us to be tactical urbanists; we’re creating a low-cost and temporary project to benefit an underserved community. Moreover, I love how we have the potential to transform the West Center into a temporary beauty salon where seniors of all identities can relax, feel pampered, and simply have a good time.
By the end of this project, I hope that this small-scale intervention can provide inspiration to other groups who strive to better the lives of our senior communities in San Diego. Additionally, I hope that our seniors will be empowered to appreciate their natural beauty and feel more confident with the idea of healthy aging.
This Saturday, the class hosted the West Center Senior Prom. The theme for this prom was “Carnival”. The journey to get to the prom was quite daunting. My friends were stuck at the Nobel Bridge due to the railway construction, which resulted in our tardiness to the prom.
Anyways, enough of that ordeal. I had a lot of fun at the prom! Taking pictures of the seniors at the photobooth, playing ring toss with the seniors and serving pizzas and chocolate fondue was so humbling. I’m gonna be completely honest - I felt so comfortable at this prom. I enjoyed working here because I knew that my services here were being used to help those who actually needed it.
I always smiled whenever I saw the seniors feeling their best selves at the photobooth. I felt so happy when the seniors would get so happy when they won the ring toss. Overall, this was just a really good day for the seniors, and I’m so glad they were able to spend a part of their Saturday afternoon indulging and relaxing in some nice festivities. I hope that next quarter, we can maintain our relations with the West Senior Center and have another weekend event that’s catered to promoting their wellbeing.
This Tuesday, our class had planned and executed the senior prom at Casa Manana. It went pretty well; the seniors looked like they had a lot of fun dancing to wholesome music, drinking champagne and enjoying some decadent desserts. Personally, this was a good time for me to destress and just live in the moment, considering that I had a hectic workday.
Setting up for the prom was nice and simple. All we just had to do was put up some decorations, set up the photobooth and place the dessert table. Set up was so easy because the employees at Casa Manana was doing most of the work for us, so it wasn’t really stressful. The decorations were cute and very wholesome. It was a bit irritating trying to use painter’s tape to stick the decorations on the walls, though.
During the prom, we spent a bit of time dancing with the seniors. Honestly, I felt a bit awkward because I didn’t have the energy/motivation/comfort to dance with all the seniors present. However, after speaking with some of them, they felt really happy watching us dance because it felt refreshing for them to see young people dancing again.
For me, I really enjoyed hosting the raffle because I was able to use my comedic and MC’ing skills to entertain the crows. I think that I added a level of energy to the prom because everyone looked amused and had lots of fun, so I felt that I did my job for this prom. I hope that the success of this prom will translate to the success of the West Senior Center Prom this Saturday.
For this week’s class, we presented a variety of projects. From current event presentations, to book reviews, to presenting our oral history projects, it was a busy Wednesday for all of us and we were inundated with numerous projects to complete.
The current event presentation about the efficacy of cogenerational housing was quite intriguing. I feel that this kind of housing isn’t for everyone, but from an urban planning perspective, this provides numerous advantages. Cogenerational housing can help develop healthy density, increasing the diversity of a multigenerational population within a city. Additionally, this can help save lots of money, seeing as retirement is getting more expensive and there’s lots of unexpected costs that may come along in the future.
Regarding the oral history presentations, I resonated a lot with those who talked about their friends and relatives who were impacted by the American War. Listening to these stories made me think about the stories my mom would share, and it felt unsettling to know that people are still traumatized by the effects of the American War. Aside from this, I really appreciated my classmates’ creativity when they showed their memoirs, and I felt a sense of humanity when I was listening to these humbling yet captivating stories.
This class was a reflective and somewhat stressful period for me. We had to choose our NAP groups as well as our HAP groups. I felt a little stressed because we were being assigned a plethora of projects and I felt a little panicked because I thought that I wasn’t going to be able to finish them all. Now I understand why this is a 6 unit class!
Aside from this conundrum, me, Katrina and Elizabeth presented on a current event debating whether senior citizens should still have the privilege of driving in their later years. Personally, I think it depends, because not all seniors have the same thinking and physical capabilities. There should be an unbiased, comprehensive test that examines the mental capacities of seniors. Even though young males are more likely to cause accidents than that of senior citizens, policies like this should be implemented as a precaution for the senior drivers and for everyone else on the road.
After the current event presentation, we were able to choose our NAP groups. We collectively brainstormed on potential places to visit for our projects. Me, Andrew, Grace, Katrina, Sabrina, Tan and Maria all decided to work together and selected Hillcrest, a predominantly young (and LGBTQ+) neighborhood, as our destination. We were able to make an initial site visit and we were able to identify an autism center for seniors. We were able to speak with one of the managers at the center and we were provided with more context regarding senior care in the Hillcrest area.
On Thursday afternoon, Maria, Katrina and I took an alternative housing tour of the various affordable housing options in San Diego. When I visited these sites, I felt like I was on House Hunters, listing the positive (and negative) aspects of each facility. Each facility has their unique aesthetics, smells and amenities. For this segment, I will give a brief review of some of the places we’ve visited, and provide insights on whether this would be an ideal living situation for someone who’s looking for affordable housing.
Potiker Family Senior Residence:
The building was old, and the interior was dark (almost eerie). I liked how there was a small vegetable garden to provide fresh air and green space for the seniors. The facility was surrounded by high rises and other living facilities. There was a local Albertsons, which would make it possible for seniors to access should they need food/pharmaceutical products. Outside the facility, we could see lots of seniors walking around the area, indicating that the area contains an active senior population.
Sara Francis Hometel:
We were lucky enough to receive a tour of the facility by the manager. He showed us some of the rooms, and I was shocked. When he told us that a 100 square foot room costs $700/month, I was even more shocked because one can get a double room in La Jolla for less than $600. The rooms were so bare, there wasn’t even a kitchen, and some rooms didn’t have a private bathroom. The smells were also horrific, and the facility in general did not seem like a welcoming place for seniors to live in. With this in mind, I don’t think it’s worth using the allowance given by Social Security to live in this establishment.
The exterior does not look like an affordable housing facility, but a high-rise apartment. I noticed that with a lot of these affordable housing facilities, they place great emphasis on security, having security features by the entrances of each facility. Here, they don’t hesitate to incorporate innovative technologies into their building design.
North Park Senior Apartments:
This was one of the nicest apartments ever. Although we weren’t able to look at the rooms, we took a walk around the neighborhood as well as the facility. The area was quiet, there were no weird smells, and the facility was surrounded by high-value homes and upscale condominiums. Again, I was shocked at the fact that this was categorized as an affordable housing home, because it didn’t look like that whatsoever. I guess my vision of affordable housing is run-down, beat-up and limited in space, kind of like the Sara Francis Hometel. My favorite part about visiting this place was going up the balcony and watching the sunset with Katrina and Maria. Being on the balcony felt so rustic, and the elements of greenery put a nice “homey” touch to it. This is a place definitely worth considering for a senior to live in.
Today we went to La Casa Mañana, a senior living community located by La Jolla Shores. Upon arriving, I was shocked by how clean and opulent the establishment was. This place felt like a resort at the Hamptons, filled with valet parking, ornate furniture, accommodating staff and outstanding amenities. It felt like paradise, and definitely a place where you’d want to die. Throughout the tour, I could remember my jaw dropping every time we saw a new feature of the establishment. To be colloquial, I was gagged.
Although this establishment was nice, I felt extremely out of place. This was a living center for mostly white, affluent seniors, and I felt that if I were to retire, this place would not be the place for me. Honestly, I felt a bit uneasy with each second that I was there. Although I looked shocked on the outside, I felt horrible on the inside. I felt this way because the conditions of this senior center were drastically different from the conditions of the Gary and Mary West Senior Center. After visiting both sites, it was clearly evident that some seniors were living their best lives, while others were struggling to survive.
Visiting La Casa Mañana made me think a lot about the culture of retirement living. It made me think a lot about my own culture’s attitudes towards this unfamiliar idea. Personally, I think that retirement communities are more of an American concept, and not so much in others. In most Asian cultures, for instance, it is usually typical for the parents to live with their adult children. It is expected that when the parent gets older, it is the children’s responsibility to take care of their aging relatives. However, this idea is beginning to shift, as spouses are working more and have less time to take care of their elders.
With this in mind, I thought about how La Casa Mañana, a predominantly white retirement community, could cater to elders of color. How can they navigate through cultural challenges such as culinary preferences or language barriers? How can the staff provide culturally competent elder care to diverse populations? I think that it’s important to address these challenges and find innovative solutions to provide services that are compatible for aging ethnic populations. Overall, this visit expanded my thinking of how we can create similar retirement communities that cater to multiculturally ethnic populations at a fraction of the cost.
Today, the class went to the Gary and mary West Senior Wellness Center located in Downtown San Diego. Upon entering the space, we were immediately welcomed with bright splashes of color on the floor tiles, accent furniture and the walls. I saw portraits of notable seniors hanging on the walls, with quotes next to them. It’s also Lunar New Year coming up, so there were decorative Asian motifs in the dining area.
Overall, I was shocked that this place was filled with warm tones, and not sad and dreary, ideas that one would typically associate with a retirement or nursing home.
The most enjoyable moment of my time at the Senior Center was having the opportunity to speak with the seniors who frequently visited the space. To be completely honest, I was apprehensive to approach them at first. I didn’t know how they’d react to my presence.
I first approached a Filipina senior and spoke with her briefly, until my classmate, Chloe, asked me to speak with a Peruvian senior, Felix, because she wanted me to join in the conversation and help translate. With my limited working proficiency of the Spanish language, we conversed for quite some time. I was kind of glad that she encouraged me to join them because Felix is quite a well-rounded, eccentric man with multitudes of interests.
From listening to his stories about owning a small business in Peru to hearing his sophisticated music tastes, I was so glad Chloe and I got to spend time with Felix. He shared so much about his life in Lima, and we got to bond over food, music and even academics!
His outlook on life is quite fascinating, and he is heavily inspired by German and Italian music. I remember him referring to Nietzsche, saying that without music, there is no life. Chloe and I were just so impressed by Felix’s sophistication and intelligence. Listening to him talk about his life stories (in Spanish) was edifying, and I’m so glad I was able to comprehend and resonate with his stories.
Felix, si estás leyendo este blog, ¡espero que podamos volver a encontrarnos en el futuro!
This Wednesday, we went to the Bayside Community Center, located in the community of Linda Vista. We went there to join the Zumba class that was offered to the community for $4 on Monday and Wednesday mornings.
As someone who lives in Linda Vista, I was so excited to find out that we were going to Bayside. I’ve done projects and visited the old center in the past but I haven’t gotten the chance to visit the site until now.
Upon visiting Bayside, I was shocked that a charter school replaced the old facility, and the new Center was moved next to it, replacing a family owned 99 cent store. I was a bit upset to see the charter school replace Bayside. There were so many beautiful art spaces and a community garden that was already established there. Also, Bayside has been in our community since 1932, so I was just shocked to find out that the Center had to relocate.
To see the old facility torn down and replaced by a charter school building had me upset. I wish that the space was renovated for Bayside, rather than to have it be torn down for a charter school to take its place.
After the Zumba class, I spoke with a community member, Azusena, who was also taking the class for the very first time. We discussed the changes with Bayside, and she too had similar sentiments with the relocation. One of the things that I took away from our conversation was when she said this:
“Bayside deserves better,” she said.
I couldn’t agree more. The fact that Bayside is downgraded to a smaller space is unfortunate, and Bayside deserves a space where its community members can continue to thrive and prosper. In the future, I hope that Bayside has a space where it is renovated just like the charter school. Moreover, I hope that my mom and I can take the morning Zumba classes in the future so we can both exercise and have fun together.