Gwen Garvey can not wait for the school to begin. She does not know how many courses she will attend or which topics she will study, but she still can not wait. Once the catalog comes out, it will decide. And if the story repeats, she'll probably take several courses.
Garvey, 75, lives in Beaufort, South Carolina, and she is one of the star students at her local Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, affectionately referred to as OLLI by veterans. It is a nationwide program now available at 124 locations for people over 50 years of age. All programs are affiliated to universities. The Bernard Osher Foundation, founded by the philanthropist, awards scholarships for the programs.
"I take 29 or 30 hours per semester," says Garvey. It all started when her longtime friend Kathleen Jordan, who works in the curriculum committee of the University of South Carolina's OLLI program at Beaufort, thought six years ago that it would be a good activity after the death of Garvey's husband Jim.
] "She had no idea what she could open," says Garvey. Since then, Garvey has taken several courses in local history, horticulture, herbs and dirt. That's the class that taught her to read the class description before enrolling, she laughs. She made her way to a class and thought it was a juicy gossip.
"People came in with scumbags and they looked like they were bringing their manure bag," Garvey says. Always a good sport, she stayed, even though she was dirt free. "I've heard from various layers that there are fossils in our soil, most of it is sandy, and no matter what you plant, you do not get much to grow." With all this new knowledge in her, Garvey says : "I always have something to contribute when I go to a cocktail party."
Each state and the District of Columbia have at least one OLLI program, says David Blazevich, senior program director of the Bernard Osher Foundation. "People join in the joy of learning and discovering," says Blazevich, "but we also want them to find fellowship." There are no educational requirements, no exams, no grades.
Each program develops its own syllabus at the local level. The offer ranges from art, music, history, science, technology to current events. Genealogy, writing classes, performance groups and even bands.
Bernard Osher is a figurehead for lifelong learning. "Mr. Osher is now 91
The Joy of Volunteering
Jordan from the Beaufort program can not wait for the school year to begin. She has volunteered for the past 12 years and is giving up the hours of a full-time job when she prepares. One of her roles is to find unpaid teachers. No problem, she finds. So far, "our teachers include rocket scientists, artists, business leaders, ecology experts," and others, she says. "We have an instructor who was a marine biologist and also a Cuban haven when he was 7 years old." His offer includes a class for cigar smoking. "Most of my students are women," he says. "You would be surprised how many women smoke cigars." He tells them how cigars are made and what to look for when buying them. Although there is no instructor payment, but a repayment. Jimenez and his wife manage Tacaron, a boutique for cigars, wine and Cuban coffee.
Jordan's husband, Jim, has published three books on history and architecture in the area and teaches sessions on his subject sessions.
Offers vary in different locations, but the Beaufort program offers around 400 courses in winter and spring, says Jordan, and another 50 in the summer. "Most are a session, usually just a few hours, and always with a Q and A," says Jordan. For other OLLIs, however, the lessons are longer, possibly 8 weeks a week.
The annual membership fees vary as well. In the Beaufort OLLI it is $ 40; Students can pay $ 120 per semester for unlimited courses, if seats are available, or pay between $ 10 and $ 20 per course, depending on the season and course. About 1,500 are members of the Beaufort program, Jordan estimates.
If Gwen Garvey has anything to do with it, those numbers will increase. As she goes about her routine, including a daily morning bath, she says, "I'm telling everyone about the classes. Actually I should let me make a business card. "
And it would mean? "Gwen Garvey. Let me tell you about OLLI.
It's your turn: curious if your area has an OLLI? The list is here.
If you had the opportunity, which subject would you teach ? Let us know in the comments!