Transcending Differences in Religion and Age

Transcending Religion and AgeGetting to know Ann is something I will always be grateful for. She has taught me so much about what it means to live each moment and to really make the most of today. Her positive attitude and bright nature continually rub off on me, and I always leave each class with a huge smile on my face, ready to take on anything. Ann continues to inspire me every day, and I know now that it is very possible to live a fulfilling and independent life, no matter your age.

As today was our last time with one another, I decided to bring a gift for Ann. I brought her a candle as well as a scarf. She loved both and even asked me to put the scarf on her. I was assuming she meant that she wanted me to tie it around her neck, but she quickly told me, “No! I want it like how you have it!” I proceeded to wrap the scarf neatly around her head, similar to how I wear mine. The fact that Ann was so keen to try the headscarf spoke volumes to me. It is evident that we have formed a special friendship over the course of the program, one that transcends any potential religious or age barriers. This experience with the PALETTE program has been absolutely wonderful and I am really glad to have participated.

Mariam Abuagla, graduate student in Pharmacy

Totem of Memories

Totem of MemoriesToday’s PALETTE class was very different than any we have experienced so far. Today we expanded our perspective in art by molding clay totem poles. The designs we created on them signified the feelings and memories that define us. Since this was a harder project, we had many opportunities to work closely with our PAL and help each other. From this project, we were able to bond in so many ways. Since I always had a love for interior design, I decided to express my interest by making a totem pole decorated with a floral pattern and a border framing my vase. This design represented my hobby in interior design and my love of decorating my room with lots of floral colors, picture frames, and symmetrical designs. My PAL, Martha loved the idea of a floral engraving that she too decided to use another floral pattern that was available. When talking more about our art, I learned that she picked this pattern because she has a passion for gardening, and has her own garden in her yard. This sparked a conversation about hobbies, and interestingly, I learned that my PAL and I both share a hobby for dancing! This was such a refreshing experience, because in our busy day we never have time to just relax, take out a moment for ourselves, and talk to another person about our own interests and experiences. It was incredible to see how a project like this leads us to help each other and learn so many new things about ourselves. We may be of different ages, generations, and backgrounds, but its great to see how alike we really are when it comes to experiences and hobbies.

Shabnam Dakwala, graduate student in Pharmacy.

Personal Items and Personal Stories

Personal Items and Personal StoriesToday, my PAL and I engaged in painting inspired by touch and memory. We were asked to bring in a personal item to share with our partners and serve as inspiration for our paintings. I brought in a small ceramic frog sculpture that helps remind me to be patient and thoughtful, while my PAL brought in a beautiful wooden elephant bookend, a souvenir from her travels in Africa. It was amazing how we both knew exactly what the other brought in just from touching and just as amazing that each object evoked in the other strong and emotional experiences in our lives.

My PAL’s elephant reminded me of an anecdote my old supervisor told me about communication: even though we all may be touching an elephant, unless we communicate we may think we’re all touching something different. That translated into some visual and evocative expressions of color, lines, and contrast in my painting: light blue reminded me of my supervisor, blocks of bold color the represent books and learning, while chaotic and random lines with contrasted colors represented the communication and interpretation which occurs every day. My PAL, inspired by my frog, was reminded of a time in her twenties when she was invited to go frog hunting with a shotgun! To go along with her elephant, my PAL shared stories of where the bookend came from, her time in Tanzania, and living amongst the villagers.

My abstraction and my PAL’s literal interpretation of our objects so how differently we can come to understand our own emotions and memories and how, even random objects can remind us of events long ago or important lessons we hold close to ourselves everyday. The personal items we brought it held a story and was sort of a bridge to connect to different aspects of our lives that we may perhaps missed an opportunity to share about.


Huy Ho, first year MSW student


MemoriesWe all have objects that evoke particular memories from past experiences in our lives. Today, we each brought an object that held a memory and we exchanged them with our PALs. Without looking at the other person’s object, we were instructed to paint a memory or a feeling that we thought of, based on our PALs object. This activity opened a lot of opportunies for conversation and bonding with our PALs. My PAL, Edith, brought a necklace that she got at her retirement party.  When I felt the necklace, my first thought was of my friends and family. Whenever I’ve gotten necklaces, they have been as gifts from loved ones. I painted a picture of a summer sunset at Stinson Beach, where I spent one of my last days in California before leaving for Virginia. The object I brought for Edith was a toy horse. The memory that it evoked for her was a time where she use to walk her dog and drive in the 2nd car she had ever owned. Overall, we had a great time sharing and bonding over our memories with the rest of the class. Our background experiences are what shaped the person we are today and oftentimes we get so caught up with our day to day lives that we forget about the little memories in our past that brought us joy. Today’s event allowed us to take some time to reminisce about the small moments in our past and share it with our new friends.


Janice Chan, first year Dentistry student

Sensory and Memory Art

Sensory and Memory ArtSometimes the most random objects can bring back the most special memories. I brought in a toy car that my grandparents had given me as a symbolic gift one year. Feeling this car without seeing it, reminded Edith of the second car that she owned: a pink Plymouth. Telling the story of her car put such a light in Edith’s eyes. She gushed about how special the car was to her and how much she loved it. We recognized our age specific cultural differences by describing our favorite cars. I told Edith how pink cars are a very rare sight now and how most people my age buy black and white cars. Edith shared that hot pink and light blue cars were very popular when she got her car.

Edith brought a Faberge egg necklace that was given to her at her retirement party. She said that she had retired two times prior, but kept returning to work. The necklace was dainty and simple. It reminded me of the future that lies ahead of me in the workforce. Although I did not view the necklace until after our paintings were complete, I used the chain and raised details of the necklace to inspire my artwork.  


Grace Prestiy, graduate student in Social Work