This fall, UD’s lifelong learning program for those 50 or older is planning nearly 300 online and in-person classes, with registration starting Aug. 3, and open-house events set for Aug. 8-10 in Dover, Lewes, Ocean View and Wilmington.
When the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the University of Delaware’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) program in spring of 2020, program members faced a difficult decision: forego attending the classes and participating in the activities or continue by entering a brave new world of online OLLI programming. Choosing to stay engaged with friends and instructors via online learning, UD’s OLLI members unexpectedly created the largest online OLLI program in the nation.
As a volunteer-driven learning cooperative for adults 50 or older, UD’s OLLI program has nearly 2,000 active members and offers about 300 classes via virtual classrooms and through their in-person locations in Dover, Lewes, Ocean View and Wilmington. With volunteer instructors at the heart of the program, the expertise from their professional careers, educational backgrounds, avocations and passions provide the source material for the breadth and depth of OLLI’s class offerings.
This fall, classes will be offered in art, literature, history, film appreciation, languages, finance and investing, the sciences, wellness (yoga, tai chi, dementia caregivers support group), dance (English country dance, Pacific Island, folk), music ensembles (rock band, chorus, orchestra, Native American flute) and more.
Featured instructors include Pacific Island dance teacher Cezarina Cornejo Alzona, retired CNN journalist Ralph Begleiter and OLLI instructor Joan Mansperger, who is presenting a class on her early career experience as a Navy air traffic controller.
Volunteer instructor teaching Pacific Island dance in Ocean View
OLLI volunteer instructor Alzona, a resident of Frankford, first learned Pacific Island dances at age 5 from her mother and later performed with a semi-professional South Sea Island dance group for many years. She’s taught her children, grandchildren and students of her church-based Filipino/Asian cultural weekend school, and now she’s leading a new Pacific Island dance class for the OLLI program at Ocean View Community Center in Ocean View.
The OLLI class covers Pacific Island culture and heritage, and introduces the dances of Hawaii, Tahiti, New Zealand and the Philippines. The course is for beginners and will focus on having fun while exercising, said Alzona.
Retired CNN journalist focuses on current events and the media
Begleiter, a resident of Ocean View, is a former CNN journalist and founding director of UD’s Center for Political Communication who regularly teaches classes online and at OLLI’s Lewes and Ocean View locations, drawing hundreds of attendees. This semester, Begleiter is presenting “Media & Public Opinion in the 2022 Elections” online, and at OLLI’s Lewes classroom location and at Bayside Clubhouse near Selbyville.
Begleiter’s classes have included “Media & Public Opinion in the 2020 Elections,” as well as “Propaganda & Public Diplomacy” and “Future of the American Political Parties.” Also available in OLLI’s fall semester will be an on-demand-style online offering of Begleiter’s popular class “Adventures of a Global Journalist,” relating experiences from his journalism career.
Instructor shares experiences as a Navy air traffic controller at ‘Top Gun’
With a background in the life sciences, volunteer instructor Joan Mansperger of Lewes has taught OLLI courses on green living, sea-level rise, tree identification, weather and beachcombing. But this is her first time presenting an OLLI class about her time as an air traffic controller at Naval Air Station Miramar in California, home to the “Top Gun” Naval Fighter Weapons School.
“Imagine being a young person, new to the military, trying to learn a complex new job in a hectic, challenging environment,” said Mansperger. “It was quite a gig, with some great stories to share!”
Mansperger will present the class at OLLI’s Lewes location, with an online option also available.
Course offerings reflect instructor expertise, member interest
Since volunteer instructors develop and teach OLLI classes each semester, offerings reflect a wide variety of interests and expertise.
Subjects offered at OLLI’s Dover location this fall include Broadway songs, genealogy, computer workshop, the American Revolution, Hemingway, Helen Keller and more.
In Lewes, offerings include woodworking, forensic science, Robert Frost, geology and a class on marine-centered alternative energy guest-led by graduate students from UD’s College of Earth, Ocean & Environment.
Civil War history, Pacific Island dance and beginning watercolor are among the classes offered at OLLI’s Ocean View location.
In Wilmington, the many offerings include archaeology, aviation history, international folk dance, desktop publishing, banned books, Tom Hanks films and an art appreciation class led by two OLLI instructors who are senior guides at the Delaware Art Museum.
Online classes include African American art history, photography, ukulele, electric vehicles, Thomas Jefferson, memoir writing, smartphone apps and investment topics.
Open houses set for Aug. 8-10, feature UDairy Creamery ice cream
The community is being invited to learn more about OLLI at open house events planned for Aug. 8 (Lewes), Aug. 9 (Wilmington and Dover) and Aug. 10 (Ocean View). The open houses take place 10 a.m. to noon, except for the Wilmington event, which is set for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Visitors can tour OLLI classroom locations, meet volunteers and fellow participants, and pick up a program catalog. In-person registration assistance will be available.
The events will feature free ice cream provided by UD’s UDairy Creamery.
The open houses are held at OLLI’s primary classroom locations:
• Dover — Wyoming Church, 216 Wyoming Mill Road, Dover;
• Lewes — Trinity Faith Education Building, 15516 New Road, Lewes;
• Ocean View — Ocean View Community Center, 32 West Ave., Ocean View;
• Wilmington — Arsht Hall, 2700 Pennsylvania Ave., Wilmington.
Fall classes start Sept. 6
For fall 2022, OLLI offerings include more than 300 in-person or online classes, including many examples of the hybrid or combined offerings, allowing flexible attendance options.
Classes start Sept. 6 in 13-week, 11-week and five-week sessions, with a second five-week session that starts Oct. 18.
Registration for fall semester begins Aug. 3. For details, including a full course listing, visit the OLLI home page at https://www.olli.udel.edu/.
OLLI’s newly revised membership structure consists of one flat membership fee of $250 for the semester, after which members sign up for unlimited classes and activities at all UD OLLI locations and online. Need-based partial financial assistance is available; for details contact the OLLI office at (302) 573-4417.
UD’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes are volunteer-based learning cooperatives for adults 50 or older to take and teach classes together with no grades, exams or educational prerequisites. OLLI programs are located across Delaware. In Delaware and across the country, OLLI is affiliated with and receives partial support from the Bernard Osher Foundation, a philanthropic organization focused on higher education, lifelong learning and the arts.