Institute helps reconnect retirees to joy of learning
Michael Williams, who worked as a technology specialist at UCLA Extension for 45 years, retired last year. But rather than slow him down, retirement has helped launch him into a golden renaissance of learning and discovery.
At 65, Williams joined thousands of people over 50 whose inquisitive minds have been stimulated by classes offered by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) , which is available through UC Extension at UCLA and six other UC campuses —Berkeley, Davis, Irvine, Riverside, Santa Cruz and San Diego.
Since retiring from UCLA, Williams has taken a variety of OLLI courses that range from astronomy and French art to jazz and the history of the Beatles.
“All the classes I’ve gone to re-energize my mind. I love it,” said Williams. “It has really made a difference in my retirement. I’m able to go and learn about new things. Going back out to the university and being a part of it again just makes me feel connected.”
While most UC Extension programs focus on professional development and certificate programs, OLLI is about learning for the simple joy of it — with no exams, grades or term papers to write — just the pure fun of learning.
A retired teacher, Leah Jordan got hooked after only a couple of classes. She was drawn by the interesting subject matter and the opportunity to learn alongside others just as eager as she was to expand their minds and circle of acquaintances.
“I was enthralled with the academic format and the variety of interesting courses that were offered. It was like a magnet for me,” said Jordan, who took OLLI classes at UC Irvine. “Having been a teacher for 34 years, I’m always hungry for knowledge. Learning is an essential function of living. When you retire, it often doesn’t occur unless you make it occur.
“It renews your energy and gives people who don’t want to sit around a reason to go somewhere,” said Jordan, who has served on Irvine’s OLLI board of directors for six years. “Even if you learn one new tidbit of information, it’s pretty neat.”
The UC OLLIs are part of a larger network of 117 institutes nationwide that offer lifelong learning courses for people over age 50. UC retirees, as well as the general public, are welcome to enroll in OLLI classes. Membership fees and course fees vary by location.
At UCLA, the OLLI one-year membership fee is $295 for unlimited Osher courses. Individuals can join during any quarter. OLLI will host a free open house on Sunday, Sept. 11, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the UCLA Faculty Center.
© 2011 UC Regents
To see the article in “UCLA Today”, go here.