July 2017

Retirement: A Time to Reset Through Lifelong Learning

Author: Mary Anne Devonshire

When you closed your composition book and laid down your No. 2 pencil in those long ago school days, did you expect to find yourself in a classroom again? That’s what’s happening to more than 1,400 Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) members in the Lowcountry. Why? They’ve found that retiring is a time to reset and identify those activities that provide purpose, meaning and joy.

In 2004, the University of South Carolina Beaufort was invited by the Osher Foundation to become an elite member of a network of university-based OLLI programs nationwide. Hilton Head residents share a passion for lifelong learning and embrace OLLI’s mission statement: “Devoted to providing quality, intellectual/educational opportunities and experiences specifically developed for adults of the Lowcountry, age 50 and older.”

Special interest classes are taught at three USCB campuses in Beaufort, Bluffton and Hilton Head Island. OLLI’s instructors come from a wide range of backgrounds and teach classes in science, art, history, ecology, international affairs and more, and spend considerable time preparing for their two-hour presentations. Members scurry in and out of as many as three classes a day, listening to instructors sharing their knowledge, expertise and passion on any number of topics.

Why are these classes so popular? Content, curiosity, desire to learn, intellectual stimulation, social interaction, and just the plain fun of it. Many Hilton Head members would add: the instructors.

Marie McClune, a Hilton Head Island OLLI committee member and former high school science teacher, sums it up by saying, “We all need to keep active, especially mentally; OLLI is a great way to keep learning.

Teaching for OLLI gives me the reason I need to overcome inertia and do what I love to do.” McClune follows this advice by volunteering as a docent at the Coastal Discovery Museum and teaching various OLLI classes on the many critters who live on our island. Her role as an OLLI committee member is to bring fresh ideas to generate at least 70 percent new programs annually to the ever-increasing curriculum.

In the spring semester, newcomer, Sarah “Tippy” Amick, Ph.D., owner of Tippy Amick Training, brought a unique approach to her class on personality types: legos, crayons, stuffed animals and loud, boisterous breakout sessions. She shares her personal love of learning by interacting with the members and adds, “They are positive, attentive, interested in the subject matter and have opinions.” The members agree.
Overheard from her students were such comments as, “Insightful, great fun while learning some great lessons. Understanding the world we live in! I can’t believe how accurate the results are.”

Richard Thomas loves teaching OLLI courses because there’s an “enthusiastic reception of truly inspirational stories about historic figures and events of Beaufort Country history.” One of nearly 200 instructors scheduled for fall 2017, Thomas moved to Hilton Head from Dingman’s Ferry, Pennsylvania in 1997. His background as a history-based, leadership and team development consultant prepared him for his upcoming popular course on Backwater Frontier. His discussion will center on the dramatic events that have unfolded in Beaufort County over the last 450 years of recorded history, more than any other U.S. location.

Osher Lifelong Learning came to the island in 2007 and continues to flourish as the island grows and changes. That will come into sharper focus when USCB opens its hospitality management campus on Hilton Head Island in August 2018. It will include a state-of-the-art OLLI-dedicated 100-seat classroom and several offices. Andrea Sisino, MSEL, director of Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, is excited to bring an expanded program to the island. “OLLI reflects the uniqueness of the community it serves. The Lowcountry community is dynamic, active and incredibly rich with people who have led fascinating lives and have made lifelong learning an essential part of their lifestyle,” she said.

Registration for the fall 2017 semester begins September 5 and runs through the term, ending on December 8. More information on membership, upcoming programs and events can be found at https://olli.uscb.edu/.

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