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Final Project

Monday, December 20th, 2010

Sevasti Giamaras
English 379: Modern Protest Literature of the Pacific
Final Project
December 14, 2010

I Love My Silver Sneaker Seniors

The community that I willingly decided to work with for this project is the seniors at my job, specifically the Silver Sneakers seniors. Silver Sneakers is an organization that works with seniors ages sixty-five and up to help them better themselves through exercise. The organization provides us with several instructors who specialize in geriatric fitness and health. They hold classes, teach them exercise techniques the seniors can use outside the gym on their own and so much more. They even have personal one on one sessions with the seniors to check up on them and try to assist them if they are having any complications working out due to an illness or injury. If they see a senior is having a medical problem, they will help set them up with the right physician to take care of them. In the classes, the seniors get the opportunity to socialize with one another as well and get free stuff like magnets, playing cards and awesome coupons. Basically, Silver Sneakers is their like second family and for many of these seniors, their only family.
I’ve been working at The Rock Health and Fitness Club for over two years now and in this time period, I have grown very attached to the senior community there. They would always stop by my desk for a quick chit chat and bring me cookies, tea, small gifts, or some type of treat that would undoubtedly brighten up my day. But when I found out that a lot of my seniors weren’t able to attend class and were getting kicked out of the program, I decided to take matters into my own hands.
The thing with Silver Sneakers is that you need to attend the gym at least twenty times a month and take at least two classes a week in order to be part of the program. If you can’t make it to the allotted number of visits and classes each month, you get penalized and if you continue to mess up, after three months you get kicked out of the program. As I recently discovered, a lot of seniors are not able to make it to gym that often and are losing their Silver Sneakers privileges. What upset me even more is the reason behind their declining attendance, transportation issues. Many seniors don’t have the means to get to the gym so I figured out a way that would that I could help them help themselves.
I found and contacted a bunch of transportation services that specialized in senior transport methods. Many of these services were private and really expensive, like iTNAmerica Dignified transportation for seniors and NCST National Center on Senior Transport. When I called NCST, they told me that they had “great” offer: a package of twenty rides a month, drop-off and pick-up, for around three-hundred dollars. I was sure that my seniors wouldn’t be interested in such a costly means of transportation, so I decided to contact some more inexpensive services.
I figured the cheapest and best way to go was with public transportation, the good ol’ MTA. I called and spoke with someone from Access-A-Ride, an affiliate of the MTA, and visited their website as well. Basically, their policy is that you must call to make an appointment with one of their interviewers. At the interview, you will be asked a couple of questions and get checked out by a health care professional. Approximately twenty-one days after your appointment, you’re supposed to receive a letter claiming your eligibility. If you have full eligibility, you are granted to use Access-A-Ride whenever you please, as long as you call ahead of time to arrange your pick-up schedule. The best part of it all is that each ride is only $2.25, the same price that a full-fare metro card charges you.
I also visited and spoke with Mrs. Susie from the MTA office in lower Manhattan. Unfortunately, she was very rude and unhelpful. All that she told me was that all the information the seniors need to apply for a reduced-fare metro card can be found on the website and that if the seniors chose not to act upon it then it was their fault since all the information is laid out in front of them. She then went on to complain about how much the seniors complain and how it couldn’t be any easier. All they have to do is fill out an application that they print out from the website, sent a passport photo and a copy of their birth certificate or any other proof of age that they have. To be truthful, the application for reduced-fare metro card is in fact easy, a lot easier than applying for Access-A-Ride, but she didn’t have to be so bad-mannered and discourteous. And one thing she failed to recognize is that many seniors do not have access to the internet and those who do, don’t really know how to use it. Another option the seniors have is going in person to apply and they receive the metro card on the spot, but the office doesn’t like to deal with them when they don’t have to.
After I compiled all this information, I then created about a hundred or so pamphlets sharing my newly acquired data and placed them on the counter, next to the computer. I also made sure to make the print reader friendly since the seniors’ eyes are weak. In addition, I included, in extra large print, “DON’T FORGET TO ASK FOR YOUR REDUCED-FARE METRO CARD APPLICATION AT THE FRONT DESK NOW!” But I put two-dozen reduced-fare metro card applications alongside the pamphlets, just in case.
It has been two and a half weeks since I first created the pamphlets and they have been flying off the counter. After speaking with the seniors, applying for the reduced-fare metro card was the most popular option. Many of them weren’t even aware that there was such thing. They were familiar with the iconic yellow metro card, but they just didn’t know what, exactly, it was for. But after I explained to them the concept, they all got super excited. Not only would it help them get to the gym, but they could now go to other places as well, and it would just make their lives a lot easier. One senior that I spoke to in particular, named Ara, told me how after applying for his reduced-fare metro card he felt inspired and applied for a library card as well. He also told me that the metro card is going to come in handy, especially now that the winter is coming, and he won’t have an excuse as to why he can’t leave the house.
As far as the Access-A-Ride van service segment of my project goes, some of the seniors already used the van service so they weren’t very interested in the application information I provided. But some of the other details I included about renewing their status, guest rides and late pick-ups did catch their attention. It is ludicrous to even think how every senior that I spoke to who used Access-A-Ride, did not know that their guest could ride for free. All they had to do was just call and claim them as their PCA or personal care attendant. They felt bamboozled and cheated that this whole time they were paying for an extra ticket because nobody from Access-A-Ride made this clear to them. Another thing they didn’t know either was that if the van is more that thirty minutes late picking them up, they can take a taxicab and Access-A-Ride will reimburse them. Upon receiving all this information, many of the seniors felt like they were scammed out of their money but they were pleased that I told them.
I was so glad that I was able to work with a group of people that I felt very close to in my heart. I speak for all senior citizens, not just Silver Sneakers, when I say no one really understands how helpless and lonely these people really are. It doesn’t take much to spend a little bit of your time to lend them a hand. Even if you can’t help out much, just showing that you care really goes a long way and makes the seniors feel loved. When I started off this project, I, personally, wanted to help out the senior community at my job because I have such a close bond with them. But looking back on my project, in retrospect, it has become so much more and as a matter of fact, I’m fairly pleased with the results. My most exciting achievement from this project, however, didn‘t come from me; it came from other members. Hearing about my mission from word of mouth, members began coming up to me and asking me if they can help. They’d offer to drive a senior to the gym and back home if their exercise schedules fell into the same time frame. My managers and coworkers, too, have helped out a lot; they offered to print any reduced-fare metro card applications whenever I’m not there. The Silver Sneakers instructors were also of assistance by making announcements in the classes about my pamphlets.
I can say I’m very proud of myself for putting together such a great movement in the gym. But I’m mostly proud of the seniors. The whole purpose of Silver Sneakers to help seniors help themselves and I feel that my project fits into that goal. I was touched to hear how I’ve inspired seniors like Ara do more than just attend gym and complete his Silver Sneakers requirements. And as a matter of fact, I kind of felt inspired and thought of starting a second movement in my workplace; to give awareness to all the members about library cards. I even went out and got my library card renewed.
I started off this project expecting the seniors to not care about the transportation information I had compiled. To be honest, they are stubborn people and hard to work with. But to my surprise, they proved me wrong. They completely ate up everything I had to say and by a week later, at least half of the pamphlets were gone. I never expected to have that much of an impact of these people and I anticipated my efforts to go to waste.
And after speaking with Ara, I was on cloud nine to hear that my project had escalated so much. I’m happy I chose to work with Silver Sneakers.

map poetry

Sunday, December 5th, 2010

Goals, challenges and all that jazz

Friday, November 19th, 2010

Well, I honestly don’t have any specific goals for the end of this semester. I generally want to get my CLIQ over with and I have two more to go. I also really want to get the classes that I want for the Spring 2011 semester. I’m really looking forward to working with some of the professors I have chosen.
My goals for this class, however, are a little narrower. I’m really looking forward to finally piecing my project together. I have all this juicy information and inside my head I have planned out what my pamphlets are going to look like. And I’m super excited to speak with the seniors and see how I’ve helped them out so far. I also want to get that final out of the way. I did really well on the midterm, so I feel pretty confident about the final, although, truthfully, I do have some doubts in the pit of my stomach. I’m a last minute study-er, and well, a final is a final so even with all the studying in the world, I’m still nervous.
As weird as it may sound, I wish that we learned a little more about the more remote Pacific Islands like Easter Island and Christmas Island. I’m a bit of a nerd at heart and I have this thing with Google-ing random stuff or browsing through Wikipedia when I’m bored at work. I wish we could have taken a closer look at these places because they often-times go unnoticed. Most people haven’t even heard of these island-nation territories. I’m a geography buff and reading about the literature, I feel, reflects a lot about the land, so I would have liked to see that.
But all in all, I’m satisfied with myself and the class. Maybe I could work a little harder at getting my final project done faster; that would be my main concern.

cool garbage!

Friday, November 12th, 2010

Hate throwing out your garbage in ugly garbage bags? Care what the neighbors will think of those hideous Hefty bags? Now you won’t have to worry, Louis Vuitton has created a line of designer garbage bags for disposing your waste… in style!

Glad and Hefty are soooo last year. Who wants a black garbage bag with strings? So lame…

There are hardly any useful uses for a Hefty bag besides throwing out the trash. And we’ve all seen those idiots wearing garbage bags as clothes. They look..well… like idiots!

But with Louis Vuitton’s new line of garbage bags coming out this Spring, one can throw out… and wear… their garbage in style! Starting at only $49.99 a bag, these garbage bags make the mundane task of taking out the garbage, into a cool and trendy hobby anyone can enjoy! And now the neighbors won’t talk garbage about your garbage!! Nobody has nothing on you because you’re the cool guy in town with the designer garbage bags!

garbage with style.. that’s cool!

Think about how awesome you’ll be with this outside your doorstep: ...wow!

6

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Work on this project hasn’t been easy. So far, I’ve been having trouble speaking with the big guys from these larger organizations like the New York City Department of Transportation and the MTA. They are difficult to get in contact with and it’s always, “you can try calling back Monday”. But I haven’t given up yet. What I did manage to accomplish, however, was gathering information for getting the senior citizens the reduced-fair metro cards. Many of the seniors I had spoken to believed that the only way to get one of these special metro cards was to go to this specific office in Manhattan where you apply for the card and receive it on the spot. This office, where I later found out is located on 3 Stone Street in lower Manhattan, between Broadway and Broad Street, is really far away from where most of these seniors live. The trip would have been a bothersome one so going in person would have been out of the question. But after looking on the website, I saw that you can actually apply for a reduced-fair metro card online. This is awesome because although most of these seniors don’t have internet access in their homes, there is a computer in the gym with internet access that is available just for the members. They can download the PDF with some help from the staff and they can use the scanner we have to photocopy all the necessary things they would need to mail in, like their government issued I.d.
I found out all the information that I needed by calling like crazy to the MTA. But in order to better understand these poor seniors, I came up with a series of questions that I asked random senior members. Not only did I come up with the information that I needed to assist the seniors, but word spread around the gym and members began coming up to me and asking me if they could help out by possibly picking up the senior members and driving them to the gym if they were both running on the same schedule.
Although I got some information that I needed about the metro card situation, I still want to interview someone in the MTA about their policies. I also still want to get in touch with Access-A-Ride, a private company that’s sort of a bus service, but for the elderly and disabled. I would say that I have completed about 45% of my project. Even though I feel like I’ve gotten so much done, I know I still have a long way to go before any real change is finalized. So far I’ve only gotten some of the information I need. Now I need to make it available to the seniors (I was thinking of pamphlets possibly) and then sit back and see how many of them this actually helps.

sex and the Ancient Greeks

Friday, October 29th, 2010

A) Building from mythology unique to your community (geographic, ethnic, or cultural), develop an argument about a social or political issue that concerns you — e.g., explaining feminism through references to Pele, or describing the problems on Wall Street through the image of alligators in the sewers.

One of the major problems that I believe this society has is its’ outlook towards woman. There’s this contradiction, a double-edged sword if you will, that a guy can do something, but a girl can’t. I often see this when it comes to sex. The more girls a guy can get, the “cooler” he seems and his image amongst his peers is greater. But with the girl, however, it’s the opposite. The more guys a girl sleeps with, the more of a “slut” she becomes. It’s interesting to see how although many girls are part of this stereotype, they seem to support it and encourage it, calling other girls “sluts” and giving in to these unruly guys’ desires.
When a girl chooses to be sexually active out of her own free will, this shouldn’t be viewed as a bad thing. The Ancient Greeks were very fond of their sexuality and having sex was a positive thing. The Ancient Greeks felt that they should be free with their sexuality, that’s why you see all the sculptures of naked men and woman and the eclectic myths on sex. One of the most popular goddess was Aphrodite, the goddess of love, beauty and of course, sex. People used to pray to her so she can help them out in their sex life. Other gods and goddess, like Zeus, also partook in an array of sexual acts, acting upon them when he wished. Many Ancient Greeks even explored their sexuality with the same sex.
Although I’m not saying that you should jump on every sexual desire you get, but don’t judge those who do. This idea of sex is wrong and women should be victimized and mistreated when they do have sex, is an idea of the Christian church.

(I don’t mean to insult anyone, these are just my personal opinions.)

Astoria is a dump

Friday, October 15th, 2010

Astoria, the heart of Queens–as we like to think of ourselves
Once a clean and wholesome neighborhood, now it just smells
The routine walks through Ditmars and 31st
Have become etched in me, I can do it walking in reverse

But let’s not do that, I have a train to catch you see
The N or the W. The Q is dead to me
Then go downstairs and grab a Big Mac at Mickey D’s
There’s nothing like some French fries, with a side of greaze

If you’re really from Astoria, you’ll know what I’m talking about
The Eckerd’s, Rite Aid and “new CVS”, we still call Genovese, without a doubt
And Q69? Who the hell is that?
The Q19A is where I’m at

There’s shopping to do, galore, on Steinway
Impacting us by long overuse, it’s become such a cliché
And why the mansion, of course, how can one forget
Trying to sneak a visit and making it home before sunset

This lively town with streets packed with cabbies
Is also packed with graveyards and cemeteries
Always chilling on the pyramids by Con Ed, trying to skate
And when night fell in, we’d watch the aurora this power plant would create

Now let’s not forget those fancy upper Ditmars kids
With their fancy trashcans with the flip-top lids
And friends from allover like the Terraces on 21st Street
Who wouldn’t hesitate to kill you in a heartbeat

Let’s Go all the way down Astoria Blvd and make a right
Straight up Shore Blvd, across the river, the Manhattan skyline– what a sight!
And now that where here, let’s hang for a bit at Astoria Park
Get some Mr. Softee and watch all the fast cars speed down the strip when it gets dark
It didn’t matter where you came from, P.S. 2, 85, or 122
We’d all end up in 141 to drive each other cuckoo
New friends and old, we’d all go to Walbaum’s Park after class
To bother each other and one another to harass

Astoria may not be the greatest of places
It smells like a dump, it’s expensive but you’d come to love it on your own pace
It’s who you’re with, not where you are
It’s all the memories that have made their way to the bottom of your underwear drawer

Topic Proposal

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

The community that I plan on working with for this project, is not an ethnic, religious or social status community. It’s a community that consists of seniors of all ethnic backgrounds, religions and social statuses. At The Rock Health and Fitness Health Club, where I am currently employed, there’s a special program for senior citizens called Silver Sneakers. There are a group of experienced instructors and trainers in Silver Sneakers who know how to specifically work with the seniors. The seniors who are part of Silver Sneakers get a discounted rate of $45.00 a month or get free membership if they get the proper approval from their insurance. They must, however, attend at least two of the weekly classes and visit the gym twenty times a month. At these classes, the seniors get to socialize with one another, which I think is the most important part of the gatherings since most of these seniors don’t have much family and are lonely. They also get health consultations, exercise, one on one counseling with the instructors, information on how to get access to other programs and coupons amongst other benefits they get as well. Overall, the program is a great opportunity for the seniors.

But a major issue is that most of the seniors end up not attending their classes because of transportation trouble and end up getting kicked out of Silver Sneakers. It’s a shame because for many of these seniors, the trip to the gym is their only reason to get out of the house and Silver Sneakers is a great way for them to take care of themselves and socialize with others of the same age. A lot of these elderly people don’t have families they can turn to, so for them, being a part of Silver Sneakers is like being a part of a family. Obviously, I can’t help every single senior that’s part of Silver Sneakers, but even if I help out just a few of these people, I think I can make a difference. I plan on contacting a private transportation system that is exclusively for seniors and people with disabilities and see if I can work something out. I can make the information available to the seniors at the gym by putting up posters and pamphlets. I can also privately talk to some of the members with transportation issues and see where else they have trouble getting to so I can see if the private bus service can help them outside the gym. I can also help them get reduced fair metro cards and help them figure out the bus/train routes they need to travel to get to the gym.

The way I plan on going about with my project is by first, speaking to some of the Silver Sneakers members. I want to gather as much information about them as possible so I can see who has transportation issues, how far away from the gym they live and how beneficial the transportation guide would be to them. Then I’m going to contact a few private transportation services and get the information available to the seniors via posters, pamphlets and word of mouth. I will be willing to assist anyone of the seniors who wish to use the bus service and help get them set up. I want to contact the New York City Department of Transportation, MTA, Super Shuttle (a private van service), NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission and other private transportation providers.

Workshop Assignment 3

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

Sevasti Giamaras
English 379- Modern Protest Literature of the Pacific
Workshop Assignment 3
September 23, 2010

Literary Manifesto (9/23). Draft a few paragraphs outlining your personal manifesto of resistance literature. What are examples of resistance literature? How does one write it? What genre is most useful for resistance literature?

I was never really familiar with resistance literature up until now. Growing up, I was used to reading autobiographies and realistic-fiction novels, but I never actually realized until now that they can be seen as resistance literature as well. Upon reading a whole bunch of definitions, I compiled that this type of literature is inspired by someone trying to write a pure account of a personal experience, but their ideas have been poisoned by propaganda (or at least close to being poisoned). Aside from the stuff we’ve been reading in class by Pacific Island authors about the Pacific Islands, some of the novels that I’ve read outside of class are also very resistance literature-ish.
I, personally, am exceptionally familiar with a lot of Russian literature, which I see as a parallel to Pacific Island literature. They both essentially talk about the same issues, but just different climates. It’s especially clear to see how Russian literature can be resistant. Russia was under communist rule for way too many years, so a lot of the literature that was written was censored or prohibited. If someone wanted to write about the government or even just their personal views, they had to do it very cleverly, using images and mystery meanings to do so. But even with the secret symbolism, the reader knew that the author was writing, in his own way, a silent protest to the government. One of my favorite pieces of literature is Nikolai Gogol’s short story, “The Overcoat”. I think that the symbolism of the overcoat was a cunning way to convey the hardships of Russia and the Russian government. Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace and Anna Karenina are just a few more examples of resistant Russian literature.

Workshop Assignment 2

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

Man who works at grocery store

Pay checks; pay stubs; to you; I come for

It all;;; because you do; it all; grocery;

Shopping && handywork; all you do it;

Except for love;

No love; I receive from you; just cash

From my paychecks; that you alone; cash

At the grocery store; everything I need;

Except for your love;

We are; together; yet not; together?

Why not- is it I-? or the us? Or; there is no;

Us; we cannot; exist; since we are not; 1

Only 1 thing is; missing; that is-

.

.

.

Everyday.I.feel.closer.to.you<< and everyday I

feel

us

falling

apart

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