by Gleb Perch
LBCC’s Lifelong Learning Program, located in the PCC campus, provides an opportunity for seniors to learn, have fun, and make new friends in a classroom setting.
A variety of courses are offered- including music appreciation, current events, social media, and tai chi, just to name a few.
According to Karol, 61, who has worked for the program since the start of the semester, the most popular class is music, followed by current events.
The current events class is taught by the celebrated Mary Thoits, who started the program back in 1978.
She combines her vast knowledge of history with her experience as a Broadway performer to bring historical figures back to life, delighting and educating her audience.
On September 14, she performed as Virginia Woodhull, who in 1872 became the first woman to ever run for president of the United States.
This was followed by a lengthy documentary, examining the stormy relationship between the media and the White House. With 10 minutes left in the class, Mary Thoits took questions from the audience on a variety of topics.
Karol, 61, a staff member working for the program, said that she loved her job, appreciating the “calm and mellow” atmosphere of the building that houses the program.
She especially loved “getting to know the seniors more and more” over the course of the semester. “I love it here”, she said. “The seniors here are inspirational. They are truly young at heart.” Her favorite thing about the program, though, was the strong sense of community the classes create, and the friendships they help bring to fruition.
Sidny, 56, expressed similar sentiments. She stressed that, according to scientific research, “one of the things that makes healthier seniors is social interaction.”
The class provides an opportunity for social interaction that many seniors may not have. She brought up one case in particular- one senior student’s wife passed away, and his children moved to England. “The class has become a family for him”, she says.
Often, the friends made in class become friends outside of class as well. Sidny says that she frequently runs into seniors who met at LBCC’s Lifelong Learning Program hanging out together after class at the park, art galleries, and restaurants.
In addition to offering classes, the Lifelong Learning Program also offers tours to museums, theaters, gardens, and other local landmarks.
These tours are especially popular amongst Long Beach seniors, with most seats being filled up very quickly. “Every Monday,” she said with a smile on her face, “I have at least one voicemail expressing gratitude” for the tour and included accommodations.