The senior prom at the Gary and Mary West Center was a blast! Some of my favorite parts were the announcement of the prom king and queen, the raffle, and the goody bags. The king and queen who were crowned were adorable, and I loved being able to witness their first dance. I found it funny that the queen had directed the king on how to pose with her for the photographer. I had the chance to speak to Ms. Soriano, who was crowned prom queen, and she was so happy about the fact that she had won. She told me about how she had never been crowned queen before and that it has always been one of her dreams to win prom queen. She also talked to me about how she had had a blast during the dance and was so grateful that we had put the event together for all the seniors. I was really happy to know that we were able to give out so many prizes for the raffle. We were able to make sure that about a fourth of the attendees won prizes. They all looked so happy to win blankets, gift cards, tumblers, cups, and girl scout cookies. When I handed the goody bags to the seniors on their way out of the cafeteria, each senior was grateful that we were sending them home with another gift. It was amazing to see how thankful each person was. One of the men even kissed me on the forehead after he said thank you for his bag! The event was such a fun and humbling experience.
When I first moved to San Diego to begin college, I didn't take up the opportunity to go out and explore the community very much at all. There were a lot of factors that played a role into why, including struggling to transition into being a college student, not having access to a vehicle, and simply not knowing what was out there. I had no idea that San Diego was divided up into so many different communities that were drastically different from one another. Growing up, my family and I would drive down to Chula Vista once in a while to visit my uncle, but besides that, I never spent much more time in San Diego. It wasn't until later in my college career that I began to leave the bubble of living on campus to go visit attractions such as Balboa Park or Downtown San Diego. It was then that I grew to love this community and the unique qualities it offers. The reason as to why I chose to explore Golden Hill for my Neighborhood Assessment Project was to have the opportunity to visit a neighborhood I had yet to see. Prior to looking up the community and visiting it in person, I had no idea that it was located right next to Balboa Park and Downtown. It was an area that I drove by all the time but seemed to miss. I enjoyed having the chance to walk around and take in all the sights, especially the quality of the homes in the area. I have always been used to seeing neighborhoods that have fairly similar looking homes, but the historic homes in the community were beautiful to admire! I also liked how the neighborhood felt so homey in the sense that it didn't appear as if big industry had moved in, but everyone lived around small family businesses and within close proximity to one another.
The Healthy Aging Project at Casa de Manana was such a fun and humbling experience. It was exciting being able to set up all the decorations and preparing the photo booth for the elders to interact with. The ballroom in itself was a beautiful venue, and the red carpet in the entrance way topped it all off. I loved being able to see everyone's happy faces when they entered the room and how excited they all were for the evening. The live band was also an amazing aspect. I actually didn't realize that the band only consisted of two members because I heard so many different instruments that I assumed it had to be a whole group of individuals. I liked being exposed to music I had never heard before along with classic songs that the whole crowd loved. Additionally, I enjoyed being able to serve snacks and drinks to the elders and having the opportunity to speak with a few of them. They were all so friendly and thankful for our presence as well as for setting up the event for them. My favorite part by far was getting feedback from the elders and hearing how much they loved the dance and that they were having a blast. I am glad that we were able to give away so many raffle prizes that a good portion of the crowd went home with something, and those that didn't win had polaroids to hold onto. I feel as if we really pulled through as a class and put on an extremely successful event.
I am really excited to put on the Oscars-themed dance for the elders at Casa de Manana. I remember that back in middle school, I wanted to join our Associated Student Body organization because one of the fun activities they participated in was decorating, planning, and hosting school dances. Although I did not have the chance to participate in the organization and missed out on the opportunity to put on a dance, now I have the chance to do so for the Life Course Scholars Program. I feel as if we are adequately prepared at this point in time to put on the dance, and I cannot wait to see how it all turns out. I really hope the seniors enjoy the event as well as our company. I always love having a reason to get dressed up and go to a special event, so I am looking forward to the dance! Regarding our individual Healthy Aging Projects, I discussed Kyle's idea with him about offering a painting activity at Bayside Community Center and we came up with additional details that we may be able to apply to planning out the project. Since Bayside Community Center is such a big space with plenty of walls, we are considering putting up the seniors' art work on display for all to view. Additionally, we are considering hiring or having a voluntary art teacher come in, such as one who hosts the wine and painting classes, to provide step by step directions in case elders do not feel comfortable painting independently. Having an instructor would ensure that everyone has a quality-looking piece at the end of the activity. If we can get more of our classmates to join in on our project, we may also consider having a potting event with plants at Bayside Community Center as well.
One of my favorite aspects of our program is the oral history project. Not only did this project allow me to learn more about my grandmother, but it permitted me to learn more about everyone else's extraordinary people as well. I believe that my peers are extremely creative and created projects in forms I never even considered. Furthermore, I loved being able to see the role these individuals played in my peers' lives and hearing the stories behind their projects. It was also great to see vintage photos of our extraordinary people from when they were babies, teenagers, and young adults. Though my family does not have very many photos from their lives back in Cambodia, I have always wanted to see what my parents and grandparents looked like when they were young. I would like to see the environments they grew up in and the various activities they participated in. I truly appreciate how this project allowed us to delve into our personal lives and connect the concepts we have discussed in class to an interactive activity. Throughout my college experience, I have never had such an intimate assignment to complete or share with others before. My assignments tend to consist of typical papers, midterms, quizzes, and final exams, with a few creative art projects here and there. This has been the first project that has solely been about me and my family. It felt great being able to share my grandmother's stories and simultaneously show others how far my family has come.
Before visiting Bayside Community Center, I had pictured the place to be similar to the Gary and Mary West Center in downtown. I was surprised to walk in and see that instead of being a center with different rooms, sections, and floors, the site was more like a recreation center, similar to my elementary and middle school multi-purpose rooms. I thoroughly enjoyed doing Zumba for the first time, especially with the elders. They had such great rhythm and really knew how to dance! Although I am not very good at dancing or following step by step moves, I quickly realized that it did not matter if you were a great dancer or not. Just being able to move to the music and have fun with it was a blast! Additionally, being able to see and take part in the potluck the seniors held was another great aspect of the visit. It was interesting to see how everyone brought their homemade dishes and was so willing to share food with one another, including us. One of the ladies I had a chance to speak with was actually from Minneapolis, Minnesota and joined one of her friends in visiting the center that day. She was extremely kind and told me about her career as a Nurse Practitioner as well as how she believed that Public Health is a field we are truly in need of and will come to benefit the future of society. Another lady I spoke with had moved to San Diego in the 1960s from St. Louis, Missouri and raised her family here. It was such a cool coincidence that she has multiple relatives, including her son, who attended UCSD and so she had a lot to talk about with us regarding our college experience and the six college system.
For our fourth class meeting, we reviewed the novel, Selling the Fountain of Youth. Upon reading this work, I was shocked to see how easily society was pulled into using products presented to them in the desperate attempt to look young. The way men slathered creams on themselves such as ones with testosterone that rubbed off on women during sexual activity and caused the women to grow hair on parts of their bodies that did not have any to begin with shocked me to see that this occurrence was just brushed off as no big deal. I have always been aware of all the anti-aging products out on the market along with various procedures that exist to get rid of wrinkles on your face, laser away cellulite, and many more. However, I did not realize how easily I bought into the idea that you could put off aging with easy procedures if you had the desire. From personal experience, one thing I enjoy doing is watching YouTube videos, specifically, ones in the beauty field that feature all types of beauty gurus that provide makeup, hair, skin, and various product tutorials. I enjoy seeing and learning how girls apply makeup and go through various beauty routines to improve their skin so that I may pick up tips on how to alter my routine. On the other hand, after reading this book, I remembered how time and time again, these beauty gurus recommend using eye creams and other anti-wrinkle creams on your face to start preventing any sign of aging while you're still young. I believe that this reoccurrence reflects just how prominent this market is among younger and younger cohorts.
Upon pulling up to Casa de Manana, I immediately noticed that the venue looked like a resort with its beach front view, beautiful architecture, and immense size. It was funny to me how I have walked by Casa de Manana numerous times while visiting La Jolla Cove, but I had always assumed that it was a hotel or resort of some sort that travelers stayed in while on vacation. I was shocked to discover that their prices to rent a unit ranged from $3,300 to $11,000 a month. The rate for a unit is higher than the price of an apartment here in La Jolla! One thing I did take away from walking throughout the establishment was its beauty. Every room was designed in such a grandeur manner including the library with its large windows overlooking the water, the rooms designed for gatherings with their unique chairs, and dining area that looked more like a banquet hall. Another aspect I thoroughly enjoyed about our visit was being able to speak and interact with the elders living at Casa de Manana. They were so enthusiastic to see us, hear about our lives, and share intimate details about their lives. It was amazing to hear about their families and witness how their eyes lit up when they spoke of their children. I was also glad to hear that they were all so happy with making the choice to live at Casa de Manana and how it seemed to fit into just what they needed. After hearing about the residents' lives, it made me reflect upon my future. I never considered living on one of these communities because in my culture, grandparents always live in their own home or with one of their children's families. However, seeing how this establishment acts as a community for a cohort of elders to come together and build strong relationships with one another has shown me that there are other options out there for life after retirement.
For our third class meeting, we reviewed the various assignments we will be completing in the Life Course Scholars Program. After hearing about all of the Healthy Aging Projects that have been put on in the past, I think I am pretty excited to put on a project of my own. I think it was very helpful to hear about the aspects that past participants struggled with and the tips they had for us in hosting our events. This will be my first time trying to put on a large-scale event, so I am thankful that our first try at the projects will be done as a large group rather than with a few peers. In terms of the projects themselves, I am looking forward to designing fun activities for the elders to partake in during the dances. Specifically, I like the idea of hosting a dance with The Great Gatsby theme where elders have the option of participating in an arts and crafts activity where they can design bandanas with feathers, glitter, and much more. Additionally, another idea I have considered is to host a dance with a masquerade theme where elders also have the option of designing and crafting different kinds of masks that they can keep as a souvenir. I am not too sure how much authority we will have to decide on themes for the dances, but I figured that these may be some options we can consider if we are able to. In regard to the Neighborhood Assessment Project, I am looking forward to exploring the Golden Hill area as I have yet to visit this part of San Diego. I feel like having the chance to walk around as a small group will give me a more in depth view of the area and its characteristics.
For our second meeting as a class, we visited the Gary and Mary West Center. One particular aspect of this site that I quickly noticed was that this was a place of gathering rather than residence. As I saw elders walking by, I took note that such a location is a unique way to allow individuals of a single cohort to come together and socialize, enjoy meals, and participate in interactive activities. It was intriguing to observe that each section of the building was dedicated for a specific purpose such as an exercise room, a computer café, a cafeteria, and much more. I was also surprised to see that the Gary and Mary West Center offered a full-functioning dental office on the second floor. I believe it is great that the center provides visitors with convenient access to adequate dental care which elders may have trouble affording if they have a limited budget to cover their expenses. When we entered the cafeteria, I was surprised to see how packed it was. I was a little nervous and intimidated to approach the elders and speak with them and the first few I greeted did not seem to have much to say to me, but one elder in particular surprised me with a greeting behind my back. I quickly turned around and had a full conversation with Robert who was from Michigan and had been living in San Diego for the past two years. He told me about his hopes of finding an adequate place to live soon and that he believes he will settle here permanently. It was relieving to see that he was as interested to speak with me as I was to interact with him. Additionally, I enjoyed being able to serve lunch to all the elders and seeing the smiles from their faces when I delivered their trays.