Nan Shan Senior Center – Helping others is Helping Yourself

While the precocity of my ecology project is about how the language barrier facing the Chinese American elderly immigrants affect their lives, I intend to dig deeper into the subject from a different approach: learning about what has already been done for the elderlies and assess the efficacy of these efforts. After my visit to Nan Shan Senior Center, I intend to accentuate the affect of my project through three different focuses:

  1. From Brian Massumi’s Autonomy of Affect, I learnt that language plays an important role in the expression of affect, as he says “In any case, language doubles the flow of images on another level, on a different track.” For my project, I think it is crucially important to deliver the message from key stakeholders in my ecology project. Mr. Michael Wang is the director and founder of Nan Shan Senior Center. For him, the place is his home. He has a lot to talk about, including what he thinks is the current condition of the Chinese American elderly immigrants and what the senior center has done to help the elderlies. I intend to document in this blog post parts of his messages and create an affect of its own.WechatIMG75
  2. I intend to record the sounds from different classes held by Nan Shan Senior Center, which include voices of elderlies learning English, the music and laughter that come from their social dancing class, and the sounds of Tai Chi class. I would also collect sounds from their entertainment activities including Mahjong and chess. These sounds could create a full-bodied affect regarding the life of these senior center members.
  3. I intend to take a series of photos that document the different functions of Nan Shan Senior Center. I would take a series of photos for each event, class, or office activity, just to capture the flow of procedure and the different motions and emotions. I want them to create an affect in that people feel that they are with the elderlies in the photo and experiencing these events with them.

WechatIMG74“ When I first came to this country 30 years ago, I visited a few senior centers around here. I saw a few White guys playing pool with their trembling hands, while some others just were just sitting around and waiting for food. I told myself: ‘I don’t want myself to be like this when I get older.’ ” The sun gently fell upon Mr. Wang’s white hair while he leaned on his office chair.  As the founder of Nan Shan Senior Center, Mr. Wang claimed not to have taken a single break since its foundation, “We don’t have that many employees, but we have new members coming in every single day.”


“I don’t know if it is still the case now, but the elderlies were always the authorities in the traditional Chinese families. Things change dramatically when they moved to the States. While their children were climbing the corporate ladders, the elderlies do not have any sources of income. They can’t even communicate well with their grandchildren because they are Westernized and prefer speaking English.” Mr. Wang sighed as he took his gold-rimmed eyeglasses down and swiped it gently with a handkerchief. “My goal was to create an elderly center that brings the Chinese American elderlies together and let them live with comfort for the rest of their lives. ”

The weekly schedule for March is packed with different classes: Tai Chi, painting, English-learning, singing, immigration, and educational lectures. “You came too late today so you don’t get to catch a lot of the classes, but I can still take you around.” Mr. Wang stood up and guided my way through.


We visited a few rooms. Just outside of Mr. Wang’s office is a small working area where four other employees help elderlies with different functions. Straight outside of the offices is a spacious area with a set of tables that elderlies could play chess on. We also visited the Mahjong room and the classroom that just hosted an English class and was holding a social dancing class. Finally we went down the basement level to the activity center where people just sat around and chat. One thing that touched me was that Mr. Wang was truly concerned about each one of his members. Before I entered each room, he would stand out and announce to the people who I was and explain to them that I had to take photos for the project: “If you like to take photos, look at the camera and smile; if not, feel free to hide your face.”  He seemed to be friends with all the members as they banter with him from time to time. “Being respectful and getting consents is the most important thing for the elderlies, ”He turned and looked into my eyes me as we ended our brief tourm, “We treat others the same way as we are treated, and helping others is helping yourself.”



Work Cited:

Massumi, Brian. “The Autonomy of Affect.” Cultural Critique, no. 31, 1995, p. 83., doi:10.2307/1354446.


~ by ynizz on February 28, 2018.

5 Responses to “Nan Shan Senior Center – Helping others is Helping Yourself”

  1. Best Learning Through Affect:
    I thought this post was the most descriptive of how you want to transmit affect. For example when you talk about recording the elderly voices, I think that would be a great and interesting way to get your audience to actually position themselves in your ecology. The audience will feel as though they are in the midst of the elderly men and women learning to speak english.

  2. I award this blog post both the “Learning Affect” and the “Best Overall” awards as the blog makes great use of information from a direct source while describing the situation to really make the reader feel as if they were being guided by Mr. Michael Wang himself through the facility. The photos also helped transmit a strong affect coupled with the vivid descriptions and informative interview quotes.

  3. Feelie – I loved how you included direct quotes from elders. I could really grasp a general idea of the role of the senior center in the elderly immigrant community!

  4. best Affect: the interview quotes are really strong in supporting the affect

  5. Best Overall: This blog has a very comprehensive and detailed description of the senior center. It includes interviews and photos that help us to understand the precarity.

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