Salem Lifelong Learners can take classes in a variety of interesting subjects.
By Alexandra Molnar, Contributing Writer
What do journaling, backyard astronomy, and Italian all have in common? They are all courses offered by Explorers Lifelong Learning Institute of Salem State University.
Explorers, one of more than 400 Lifelong Learning Institutes across the country, offers a multitude of courses in two main semesters for people ages 50 and over.
In the midst of its fall semester, which extends from July through December, the program had almost 300 members who hail from the greater Salem region, including from towns such as Gloucester, Ipswich, Beverly, and Middleton.
Although courses are open to anyone 50 years or older, most participants are in their late 70s and early 80s, with some even in their 90s. Explorers, which has existed since 1992, offers morning and afternoon courses from Monday through Thursday with each course running two hours long.
Jeanne Louizos, president of the board of directors and chair of the curriculum committee, dedicates many hours a week to her positions, both of which are done on a volunteer basis. As the curriculum committee chair, Louizos is in charge of developing the curriculum and creating the course catalog. Each semester, she sends a course proposal form to interested presenters and then pieces all of the courses into a schedule.
Louizos, who has been with Explorers since 2002, believes that the program is important because it “keeps your brain well-oiled,” she said. “People really want to stay stimulated. [You] can do that at home with a cross word puzzle, but [it’s] nice to do it in a social area.” She added that the courses are “good for the whole mind and soul.”
The teachers, also called presenters, are usually current Explorers members, many of whom are former teachers, engineers, scientists, and other professionals retired from their fields. In order to enroll in classes, one must purchase a membership which is valid for one year. Members may take up to five courses per semester, and they have access to the Salem State University Library among other benefits.
Many of the courses, such as Conversational Italian, repeat over the years, while other courses are introduced to the catalog for the first time. German Conversation, Beginning Spanish Conversation, and Journaling are some of the new courses this year. Current Events, where students meet to discuss local, national, and international issues based off of news readings, has been one of the longest running and most popular classes.
Some classes are discussion based and do not demand any time outside the classroom while others have homework assignments that students must complete each week. If students want to learn about computing, they can take “Mac Computers for Beginners,” while those who are interested in grape varietals and wine regions can sign up for “Wine Basics.”
Louizos herself recently took two courses, “Radio: the Master of Imagination” and “Help for Hearing Loss.” The radio course lasts 10 weeks while the hearing loss class is only three sessions. Radio is Louizos’ favorite course, as she grew up listening to radio shows. In that particular class, students learn about the history and evolution of radio through listening to clips of radio shows, observing radio-era visuals, and participating in discussions.
In addition to the intellectual aspect of the courses, students and leaders enjoy the social part of having lunch together in between classes and attending the Friday morning coffee hour. The coffee hour is a two-hour session featuring speakers presenting on a variety of topics, ranging from recollections of a former CIA agent to mindfulness meditation.
Explorers also offer two intersessions which occur between the regular semesters; one runs in January and February and the other in July and August. During this time students may attend programs for two mornings each week.
The Explorers Center Office is located at 10 Federal Street, Salem, Mass. If you are interested in becoming a member, visit http://explorerslli.org or call 978-744-0804.