This week in class, we watched a presentation on how to format our posters for our HAP’s. It was interesting to see how information can be presented in so many different ways and little changes can determine if a viewer will stay to read your poster or not. During the discussion for the readings, we digressed from the main subject and began to talk about the DEI requirement for the university. Though this requirement has good intentions, many students try to find easy ways to fulfill this requirement, which contradicts its purpose. We are supposed to take classes that teach us the diversity of our world and how to be inclusive of others, but because people try to take the easy way out, they end up learning nothing. For my DEI requirement, I took DOC, which is Marshall’s writing sequence, and an EDS class which also counted for DEI. Both those classes were very eye opening as to what the real world is like towards differing races and perspectives. Yet because the EDS class required me to go to elementary classrooms and gain hands-on experience rather than just reading about it in a textbook, the impact the class had on me was far greater than any class I had ever taken. I feel that they should change the DEI requirement to be something requiring out of classroom experiences so that people can truly learn and understand what diversity and no diversity looks like outside of our school. Also, many EDS classes need more students to enroll so that they can provide mentors for the children, and making it a requirement for students will result in a huge increase in the number of college mentors for younger children.
This past week, we visited Bayside for a second time and did Zumba with the seniors there. Just like last time, it was a lot of fun and I felt that many of us were more comfortable as opposed to last time since we knew what to expect now. When we worked on our ideal intergenerational community, the elders that I was sitting with expressed their concerns about the countdown of the crosswalks in the street, having hilly land, and having a space like the Bayside community center to be able to interact with both the young and old. When it came to the crosswalk issues, one of the seniors said that many elderly people with walkers are only halfway through the crosswalk by the time the timer runs out. The problem with extending the time however is that the cars would have to wait longer, and in a busy city like San Diego it might cause problems for other people. For most people in general, not just the elderly, walking on hills is tedious and troublesome. For our ideal community, we wanted flat roads and sidewalks so that walking to places would be easy and accessible. The elders were also explaining how they really liked living in Linda VIsta. They loved its diversity and all the amenities it provided for them, and also liked how everything is easily walkable. Based on what they liked about Linda Vista, we translated those onto our ideal community. I really enjoyed the visit on Wednesday and I’m glad we get to talk to elders about issues that not many people think about. It puts a good impression on the elders and I can tell that they feel happy that we are trying to help them out.
Today we had our first site visit of the quarter and it was amazing. We visited Casa de Manana and sat at separate tables with 2-3 of the residents at each table and spoke to them about what we thought what an age friendly community looked like. I mainly spoke to Janet and Dot, who were both great women but their personalities and perspectives towards young people differed greatly. Janet loved the idea of intergenerational mingling, and when I told her that I was going to Spain over the summer, she told me about the kind of community they have there. They have a plaza that’s open to the public where people of all ages, young and old, come together to socialize, play games, and just have fun throughout the entire day, even until night time. She thought it was a great space and wanted something like that in our community here. Dot, on the other hand, though she did like young people, felt that being in a space like that would be awkward for her. She said that us young people like being with people our age, while she liked being with people her age as well. I understood where she was coming from and I was able to see why these social barriers of age prevent us from interacting with people of different ages as much. However, that’s why I feel like we need to incorporate structures that force/encourage people to interact with each other, so that in the future the interactions can occur more naturally.
This past Wednesday, I shared my presented my findings from the passages I chose through the in class discussion. The two passages I chose, Warning and The Big Boys, both related to the theme of social and psychological aspects of aging, but from different perspectives. Warning was from the point of view of a woman, who wanted to be able to wear the color purple and not be judged for it once she became an old woman. She wanted to challenge the stereotype of the “crazy old woman” and instead do crazy things just because she felt like it, not because her sanity was deteriorating. This passage made me think about how we see elders in two very different extremes, either very respected or pitied with disdain. The second passage challenged humans in the workplace. The author argued that everyone, no matter what age, is still human and we all have our flaws. He also pointed out that though people think that others should retire once they hit the age of 65, he felt that when he turned that age he lost purpose in his life. Doing nothing made him feel out of the loop and no longer connected to who he was, which is why he started to work again. Both of these passages made me see how society influences the way people act and think about themselves. Though it may be unconscious, it plays a big role in how people carry themselves and it affects their future, for better or for worse.
At the end of class, Professor Lewis showed us a film that discussed how the age distribution of our population is changing from a pyramid shape to a barrel shape. Our government and economy was made for a pyramid shaped population, but now that this is changing, we all need to work together to make the country a better place for kids and the elderly, so that it is better for everyone overall. The film did not blame anyone for the problems we have, but rather offered solutions that helped all ages out. It was interesting to see how the problem seemed easily fixable, so long as people are cooperative, which is the main problem.
Over the weekend, my HAP group and I visited Seasons at La Jolla in order to discuss with Barrett how we would implement the choir for his residents. We came in thinking we would have to negotiate a deal with him, but it seemed like Barrett expected us with the mindset that we were already going to form the choir at Seasons. He was extremely kind and toured us around the center, showing us the different lives that the residents have lived. Many of them are extremely accomplished, intelligent, and talented. Each resident had an amazing story and it was so touching to see that Barrett knew them all, so if they ever forgot he would remind them of their amazing accomplishments and of their loving families. I’m really glad that the biggest hurdle of our HAP is now dealt with, and now all I need to do is come up with a repertoire of songs and find a way to teach it to the seniors in a fun, but mellow way. I’m excited to talk to them and hear their stories from them personally and I can’t wait to be able to sing together with them.
During class this week, we went over some logistics and then Rhiannon, Jackie, and Elizabeth shared their one page discussions. The points that they brought up were very eye opening and analytical, so I’m a bit apprehensive for when I share what I found for my discussion. Nonetheless, I’m confident I will be able to find the same passion in the readings like the other girls, and I’m looking forward to sharing that newfound knowledge with the rest of the class.
On our first day back, the professors gave us a breakdown of the plans for the quarter, and then spoke to each group about their HAP’s. For my HAP, I teamed up with John, Jessica, and Stephanie to try and form a choir at a dementia care center. Because we know that music helps with memory and makes people feel good, we hope that our HAP will be able to make a difference in the lives of the elderly with dementia by bringing music into their lives. Currently, we are in contact with Seasons at La Jolla and we are going to meet head of the center, Barrett, this upcoming Saturday. I was a bit scared to form our choir at Seasons because Barrett has really bad reviews on Yelp, but he seemed nice on the phone so hopefully it works out. The professors said that we would make a bigger impact if we tried to hold classes weekly, but it is difficult for us because as college students things always come up and we are always busy. Though I don’t have much free time this quarter, I want to try my best in giving to the dementia center and sharing my love of music with the elderly at Seasons. A few challenges that I foresee are organization, music genres, and interest. I feel that it will be hard to get the choir started and get people involved, but once we settle in I’m sure it will be fine. The issue with music genres is that the seniors at the center might have a wide age range, making it hard to decide what songs would be best for them to sing. Lastly, I hope that our choir is fun and exciting enough for the seniors to want to continue doing it and to build social relationships with us.
The Casa de Manana dance was super cute and adorable. I went with the later group because Jackie got off work at 6, but I think we made it just in time. The seniors were dressed up so nicely, and the two person band was amazing. The man played so many different instruments and it was amazing to see how he used each one to bring a new moment into the music. Though most of the seniors sat down, a couple of them danced and wanted to dance with us. I loved watching them dance, and I thought it was so cute that when they wanted to dance with us they would all hold our hands. I was also really amazed by Chase, who really put himself out there dancing with the elders. John and I were admiring his courage. At the end of the dance, we held a raffle and gave out many prizes. We gave the elders blankets, gift cards, and orchids. They loved it much more than I thought they would. They seemed to really appreciate all the gifts, and seeing their faces light up when so many of them won was very heartwarming. There were also brownies being served as a snack, and they were really good. At first, the elders did not want to touch the food, but after we started to pass some around, then they stopped feeling shy and came to get the snacks and drinks. I was tired by the end of the night, but it was very fun.
The class session for Week 8 was only about an hour long. We just checked in to make sure we were ready for the dance at Casa de Manana on Saturday, and spoke about our NAPs and HAPs. I was a bit confused about the NAPs because there weren’t clear instructions on what we should do, but since examples of past projects were posted, I have a better idea of what to do for my own project now. My group has visited our area twice and we feel comfortable enough to start working on the presentation now. We hope that we can use the online resources to help us find things that we couldn’t see for ourselves. For my own HAP for next quarter, I am planning to work with Jessica and John at a dementia center and form a choir there. We started to talk about our plans at the end of class. John will email dementia centers around here, and from there we can choose where we want to go. Since we have a small budget to use, we were planning on buying music books so that I don’t have to write music myself for the choir. I’m not exactly sure about how our project will work though, for example how often would we go to the center, would they have a performance at the end of the quarter, or should we just sing to sing. As we continue we the project, I will find the answer to these questions later.
During yesterday’s class session, my group presented our book, This Chair Rocks. Though the book was very eye opening and had lots of information and evidence, I felt that some of its claims were a bit far-fetched. For example, one argument that the author makes is that being anti-aging means to be anti-living and thus also anti-breathing. I understood the correlation between these words, but I felt that the author was making the issues of anti-aging to generalized. But other than that, the book helped me be more conscious of my actions and the things that I say when it comes to age. At the end of class, the other half of the class presented their Oral History Project, and each one was very touching. It was shocking to see that almost every single EP has endured such difficult hardships. Usually, people don’t think that it is normal for others to experience such rough obstacles in life, but all of the EPs faced these difficulties and came out on top. It was inspiring to see how each EP handled their situation and learn from that experience. It was also really adorable to see how touched Trish felt after witnessing everyone’s projects. She seemed really happy and impressed with what she saw, and I can only imagine how fulfilled she felt seeing people read her book and then implementing its ideas on their own. After the presentations, I was reminded of how much I love my family and the whole time I just wanted to call my mom to make sure her and the rest of my family were okay.
Today we visited Bayside Community Center and the executive director was another very inspiring man. When he first received the job, the center was bankrupt. He did not know what to do because firstly he was new, and he knew how much the center meant to the people, but he had no money to fund it. Then suddenly, a real estate agent came and offered to buy his property in order to build a school, which lined up perfectly with the mission of the community center. The way in which he spoke was so genuine and inspiring, and you could really tell that he loved his community. Afterwards, we participated in a Zumba class with the other seniors who were there. The class was really fun and I expected it to be minimal movement, but we were all sweating. At the end of the class, one of the seniors came up to me and told me that I was a good dancer. She said that she was watching me and that I “really knew how to move my feet”. She also said that I should be a Zumba instructor someday which I found to be really cute. The seniors there were very active, lively, and so kind. In the future, I want to go back and either volunteer or visit that center because its mission and values struck a chord with me. I want to be able to help out there because I like to work with children and the elderly.