I had the greatest time talking to one of the seniors at the Bayside Center. After they completed Zumba (which quickly peeking through the window looked hardcore), we were able to converse with the seniors about their and our “life at 20”. Leena and I were able to get to know a super adorable woman named Zenny. At the age of 20, Zenny was studying at a university in the Philippines for a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural. When we asked her inspiration behind her studies, she talked about how her family was very poor and how she learned she would get a scholarship if she studied agricultural development so that is what she did! Zenny really enjoyed what she learned and how after she graduated, she was able to use her knowledge to help surrounding communities in the Philippines on agricultural development and sustainability. She was excited to learn that my experiences for “life at 20”, which is the age I am now, consists of being a Peace Corps ambassador for UCSD. Her studies and work relates to how Peace Corps agricultural positions also help communities to have more sustainable and efficient practices that farmers can learn and apply after volunteers have to leave. Zenny was so sweet to talk to and she even invited us to pick guavas from her variety of Egyptian and Mexican guava trees next time we visit! I was very happy and am looking forward to do another “life at 20” talk.
A rainy day to start off the first class of the quarter. Many of my classmates’ spring breaks were going out of town or abroad such as to volunteer while others spent time with family and friends! After going through the syllabus, we separated in groups to discuss our HAPs. One idea is we want to create a community garden in terms of a sustainable community vegetable garden using a drip irrigation system for best outcomes. Our plan is to build a communal garden that can be used for planting fruits, vegetables, and flowers. Depending on space availability the plan is to build at least 3 raised garden beds. We want the seniors to pick what they wish to grow such as certain vegetable or herbs. An alternative idea is to create mason jar succulents, herbs, and plants! We would get all the crafts and create mason jar decorative plants with the seniors with paints, ribbons, rocks, and other decorations. This would really be a fun program because we would get to create a community space for the seniors to spend time with us and also take home their own creations. Overall, I am excited to see which path we take, depending on our resources, time crunch and space needed. I am also looking forward to seeing my classmates’ projects as they all sounded very entertaining.
FOoOoOooOoD! Today is the potluck so I purposefully did not eat in the morning so I could try the food everyone brought and boy was it delicious. While eating (and getting seconds of course) we talked about the West Center prom and how we were really happy everyone enjoyed the games, photo-booth, raffles, good-bags and food but how we wished it was longer as we did not know we would only get about an hour to complete everything. We also got to plan our independent projects for next so I am excited to work with my group to make a community vegetable garden using a drip irrigation system to make it more sustainable. I look forward to seeing how we are able to get this done and learning more about sustainable gardening by gaining experience. We will also try to incorporate intergenerational learning by showing the seniors how to keep the garden going and have them teach us their methods too! The main planning we need to get done by next quarter, in order to be on schedule, is to find a senior center that will have space and need for our project plus will allow us to continue this project. I am pretty sad this is the last class day for this quarter but thankfully next quarter is not to far!
After a couple weeks of visiting different senior centers and gathering knowledge, class is back at school! It felt so different being inside for a couple hours as I became used to being out and about with my classmates. It was a busy day as we started off with the first of the current events presentations. One of the groups led a discussion about elders and driving such as if there should be a required test for elders to pass once they reach a certain age in order to assess their driving safety and the safety of those around them. It was an interesting discussion as it is a hard question to answer as being able to drive is very impactful for our societies. It is the way many people are able to access places like markets, work, friends, family as public transport can be unreliable, inaccessible or take a much longer time while private transport like uber, lyft, and taxis can be expensive. Becoming older can be senses will become less reliable but it is really difficult to answer how to make sure elders are able to keep their licenses or not because cars could be the only way they are able to live more freely. I agree that there should at least be visual assessment for driving past a certain age in terms of making sure they are wearing the proper vision correction glasses or contacts. After the current events presentation which also included a discussion about social isolation, we talked about our Neighborhood Assessment Projects. My group decided on assessing Sabre Springs so we are excited to see how it ranks for our six different categories. We also have the oral history projects next week and I will be presenting! I decided to visually make my project as a jewelry box with my grandma’s memories on hearts inside the box as she was a jewelry and the hearts relate to one of her memories so time to finish that up right now!
Today is the last day of memoir sharing. It’s the morning after the lively Casa de Manana prom but sadly, there will be no dancing today. After reliving the events of yesterday, I got to listen to some current events. We discussed how age discrimination in employment makes its harder for older adults to find jobs. Social security is not enough to survive and cost of living is way too high. This is why the senior job fair in Austin, Texas is an amazing idea as it creates employment opportunities for seniors who could potentially not otherwise not be able to compete against younger candidates. I think these type of fairs should be conducted all across the US and account for the aging population demographics, higher price areas and relevant job opportunities. After the discussion, my classmates presented their memoirs in the shape of paintings, booklets, powerpoints, objects and more! Bianca talked about her grandmother’s love and happiness for all her children, how strong and optimist she is and how she has the coolest birthday celebrations! Leena talked about her father up in Palestine with Israeli soldier occupation, coming to America, and how he is happiest with his family just like he was with his big family. Tan talked about her father’s immigration journey to America and how through his hard work and perseverance, he was able to bring his family over as well. Sabrina’s mother also had a tough immigration journey but prevailed! Claudia’s grandmother started a business and overcame many hardships such as with cancer. Judy’s aunt and how she considers her special ed students as her family, Deanne made a car keys memoir in honor of her dad’s memories, and Katrina talked about her grandma bringing Taiwanese culture to Africa which was the happiest time of her life. Last but not least Ameena talked about her dad’s journey to America and love for his family while Janan mentioned her mother’s journey from Lebanon to Sri Lanka to Dubai and how her mom is always smiling and positive. It was so amazing to hear about my classmates’ family’s immigration experiences and love for their family!
Casa de Manana prom is tonight! Trying to follow the rock and roll theme a little, I wore my black bomber jacket and ripped jeans. I was excited to meet the Casa members and have fun with them at prom. As soon as I walked in, I saw the great decorations, colorful photo-booth, and a lively audience. The Casa residents were enjoying the music, chatting, taking photo-booth pictures with my classmates, drinking champagne and overall having a great time. There wasn’t really anyone dancing though which is why some of my classmates and I decided to get the prom rolling (obviously after taking a bunch of photo-booth pics). We went on the dance floor and encouraged some of the seniors to join us. One of the ladies, Linda, was very happy to dance and she took me to the middle of the dance floor even though no one was there!! I was so shy because everyone was watching us but they cheered us on and I had a really great time dancing with her. She twirled me around, we made some killer moves and eventually got other people to join us. When we were taking a breather, Linda told me she felt so energetic and was really enjoying dancing. After, I talked to some of the seniors sitting down. When I asked them to dance, they said their entertainment was watching all of us! So I instead sat down and answered their questions about the LCS program, my majors and how one of the seniors we talked to worked as an Urban Development Planner for the city of San Diego! After giving away raffle prizes (such pretty succulents), we danced a bit more, talked, ate and I later helped clean up. It was overall a wonderful experience and going to Geisel after, I was still in a party mood!!
Today two of my classmates and I presented on the book, “This Chair Rocks’ by Author and activist Ashton Applewhite. The book was an eye-opening read as it helped me realize that we should not be fearful of aging and how elders are so much more capable than society often thinks. There are so many stereotypes we need to overcome about aging as it contributes to the negative idea of ageism. Aging means living! I learned about how more elders are happier than ever once they become older. Today was also part two of memoirs! I was able to capture more in depth each person’s amazing memoir and EPs. Such as Wayne’s dreamcatchers, its energy and relation to the Native American history of his mom, Sallie’s mom’s memories getting her PhD and finding the love of her life (her wedding dress was so pretty!), Victoria’s dad’s beginning of new life in America (Manhattan), living in Chinatown tenements, achieving higher education, meeting his wife and the cookbook memoir to relive memories. Maria presented on her dad in the form of a restaurant menu memoir and how her dad loves spending time with his family so much. Emily and her grandmother who helped build a dam, marriage and living in Hong Kong, Nicolette’s uncle’s positivity and peace with his memories, Mandy’s friend gaining happiness and love. Each memoir was so touching and many of my classmates were able to get never before seen pictures that they would not have gotten before this project and how they learned so much from their EP’s life adventures, struggles, and over comings.
Today’s the day I get to present my grandma’s memoir, “The Various Forms of Life”! I stayed up a bit to do the finishing touches as printing the memoir onto the small, delicate hearts required me to actually measure the font sizes and pictures. After sending my mom and grandma a picture of the completed project, I headed over to class for my current events presentation. My group presented on co-housing and how it could be beneficial for both the elder and student. Combining the elderly intergenerationally not only helps financially for both the elder and the student but also provides a sense of companionship. For those who are still working age, it’s getting harder to pay the rent. Also, studies show that most people want to stay in their homes or communities as they age or age in place as we know. But an increasing number of those 65 and older still have mortgages to pay. After the current events, we got to present our memoirs. I was very happy to talk about my grandma’s memories and showcasing the jewelry box as she means so much to me and I got to learn about different parts of her childhood and her life through this activity. Her memorable childhood, love for theater, dance, singing and passion for teaching was so great to talk about. I never knew she went to professional singing school before she became a well-known and respected teacher. Her struggles when coming to America to make a living, raising her kids, and dealing with help problems like her heart attack and back problems made my grandma so strong and I love her so so much. I am excited to show her the jewelry box in person when I go back. My classmates memoirs were so creative and it touched me to hear about their EP with such love and with a smile on their face.
Arriving at the Casa de Manana Senior Center, I was amazed to see how close it was to the beautiful La Jolla shores. Just a quick walk over and the beach is at your feet! Touring Casa was just as spectacular as I saw seniors participating in different activities such as group exercises and movie viewing (I wanted to join) at the mini-theater. All around the residence, I could see flyers posted about different events such as fun tours around San Diego, bible-studies, and various celebrations. We met a resident who just turned 100!! During the tour, we saw various places where the residents can get together such as the vast dining hall overlooking the shores, a physical therapy center, swimming pool, movie lounge, game and computer room, and the expansive villas. I could tell that Casa was a great place to reside as the whole set-up was meant so the residents can easily talk and participate. My thoughts were confirmed when we met three different individuals who lived there and talked about their life journeys and why they came to Casa de Manana. I learned that they went through many life journeys, both good and bad, but once they decided to reside in Casa they have loved it. Casa provides three meals, cleaning services, transportation and many other amenities. Many of the residents actively participate for social change for aging such as through donations and fundraising for elders who are less fortunate. It touches my heart as it is important for not only for us to help others to advocate for healthy aging, but also for people helping others their own age. I am excited to come back to hear more stories from the wonderful residents and plan prom!
As I walked to the Geisel Loop (in the surprisingly sunny day), I thought about what we would do that day. I thought we would visit two or three affordable houses that were similar in terms of visuals and demographics, but I was so wrong! The tour of affordable options helped me realize that just in downtown San Diego, there are many senior housing options that can range in many levels. I was shocked to see that this range was vastly different in each of the eight tours as the Sara Francis Hometel was very minimalist in terms of small space and few amenities but because of the location, rent was still high in terms of the Federal Poverty Level. In contrast, even though the North Park Senior Apartments were a couple hundred dollars more, the immense difference was noticeable as North Park had a beautiful view, great neighborhood, environmentally friendly accommodations and was very aesthetically pleasing as seen in the picture above. From the outside, some of the housing options were also in the category of “pleasing to look at” as I did not even know the building were affordable housing options because they blended right into the modern architecture that makes up downtown La Jolla.
No matter how nice the housing options looked or how the prices varied, one thing that was certain was it was still a high price to pay for a senior who is below the poverty level. Admirably, the staff workers at the housings were very passionate about helping the seniors live better lives such as through engaging them with activities, volunteering, and empowerment. They acknowledged how it is unfair for the seniors as they do not get enough income to generate better options and that the Elder Index is a better county specific measure to use in order to cover just basic expenses of an elder adult. I am glad to know that there are amazing people out there that are dedicating their careers and time to help this growing population and this tour shows us students that not only will this population need more and more help in the future but that we must also be educated and spread our knowledge and skills to take the next step in improving affordable care.