O.W.L.L. - Older Wiser Lifelong Learners

What is O.W.L.L.?

With the collaboration of the Lexington Council on Aging, the Friends of the Council on Aging present O.W.L.L. - Older, Wiser, Lifelong Learners.

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O.W.L.L. (Older, Wiser, Lifelong Learners) Spring Semester Courses for
March through May 2019

Please Join Us For Our Spring 2019 Semester Reception and Registration on Thursday, February 7th from 2-4.

Download the Spring 2019 registration form

All classes will be at the Lexington Community Center


Contemporary Asian Literature

Instructor: Cammy Thomas

5 Sessions: March 27, April 10, 24, May 8, 22

Wednesdays, 10-12

Cammy Thomas Biosketch: Cammy Thomas has forty years of experience teaching literature and creative writing, at both university and high school levels. She has a PhD in English from UC Berkeley, where her dissertation was about Alfred, Lord Tennyson. An MFA in poetry from Warren Wilson College followed. She has published two collections of poems with Four Way Books: Inscriptions (2014), and Cathedral of Wish, which received the 2006 Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America. A fellowship from the Ragdale Foundation helped her complete Inscriptions. She lives in Lexington, Massachusetts.

Course Description: We’ll read and discuss short, contemporary works by writers from four countries. All readings will be in English. Our aim will be to better understand the issues and concerns that motivate the writers, and to explore the literary techniques they use to bring those concerns to their readers. From Japan, Banana Yoshimoto’s novella, Kitchen (1988), ponders generational differences in Japanese culture in the late 20th century. Dai Sijie investigates the disruptions of China’s Cultural Revolution in his novel, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (2000). Suki Kim’s memoir, Without You, There is No Us, describes the difficult year she spent in an elite boys’ school in North Korea (2014). And Pakistani novelist Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007) follows a young Muslim world traveler as he experiences the painful east/west divide in a post-9/11 world. Some questions we will consider: What happens when powerful forces transform the cultures these characters are used to? How will they adapt to new beliefs about gender, about religion, about education? How will they face new and potentially dangerous realities? What are their dreams for the future? And finally, how do these concerns connect with our own?

*Class meets every other week to allow time for reading the texts*

The Earth’s Moon: Far Side, Dark Side, or Just a Phase It Is Going Through!

Instructor: R. Bruce Ward

5 Sessions: March 19, 26, April 2, 9, 16

Tuesdays, 2-3:30

R. Bruce Ward Biosketch: R. Bruce Ward recently retired, after 25 years, from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics where he directed eight National Science Foundation projects in astronomy, astronomy education, and assessment. Additionally, Ward was professor of astronomy at Middlesex Community College, also for 25 years. His primary interests include using astronomy to make the nature of science accessible to the general public and researching how misconceptions block learning. Previously he taught high school chemistry and astronomy. Ward has been a Lexington resident since 1969.

Course Description: The Earth’s moon is the easiest object in the sky to observe and its repeating cycle is the most familiar heavenly pattern anyone can investigate. And yet in many ways the Moon’s behavior is more difficult to understand than any other object in the sky. Over the span of five weeks we will be able to observe a complete cycle of phases, using these observations to develop deeper understanding of how the Moon appears to change shape, its double motions, the directions and rates of these motions, its effects on Earth and tides, and more. In each session participants will do one or more discovery-based activities to model many of the Moon’s behaviors. We will investigate eclipses, a matter of size and geometry, and see that they are predictable and occur only at certain times of the year, which slowly shift from year to year. We will also see that two millennia ago the Greeks knew quite well the size of the Moon and determined the Earth-Moon distance; we will replicate the method used in determining the latter. And as the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing approaches we will see how those missions both advanced and changed our understanding of our closest celestial neighbor.

Memoir Writing: Creating a Written Snapshot

Instructor: Christin Worcester

6 Sessions: March 14, 21, 28, April 4, 11, 25

Thursdays, 1:00-2:30

Christin Worcester Biosketch: Christin Worcester received her undergraduate degree from Boston College and graduate degree from the University of New Hampshire where she specialized in the teaching of writing. She recently retired after thirty-five years of teaching English in secondary schools. Upon her retirement, she began her writer’s journey by creating pieces for her memoir - a work in progress. Christin participates in a variety of writer’s groups as she continues to develop and practice her skills. In addition, her busy life is filled with actively volunteering for many community programs in Lexington. Christin has been a resident of Lexington for over 30 years

Course Description: Do you have a remarkable moment in your life you want to share with family or friends? Is there a pivotal point in your life to examine or clarify just for yourself? During this introductory memoir writing workshop, we’ll explore various literary elements that contribute to an effective retelling of your moment in time. Through guided practice writing activities, you’ll have the opportunity to work on developing your story, characterization, setting and dialogue for your piece. You’ll arrive with an idea in your head and work with that story… you’ll leave with a written snapshot – a gift to keep or share. After 5 consecutive sessions practicing and working on all elements of your “written snapshot,“ we’ll spend a week apart as you put the finishing touches on your final piece. During our 6th session, we’ll return to our workshop to share final written snapshots!

The Vietnam You Never Knew

Instructor: Professor David Thomas

4 Sessions: April 9, 16, 23, 30

Tuesdays, 10-11:30

Professor David Thomas Biosketch: Professor David Thomas grew-up in Pride’s Corner, Maine, and enlisted, to avoid the draft, in the U.S. Army in September 1968. From April 11, 1969 until March 22, 1970, he served in the Army Corps of Engineers in Pleiku, South Vietnam, as a jeep driver, draftsman and combat artist. After returning from Vietnam Thomas completed a series of paintings and prints based on that experience and his anti-war experience. In 1976, he began a twenty-five-year teaching career at Emmanuel College. Thomas was among the first American Veterans returning to Vietnam in 1987. He curated the exhibition “As Seen by Both Sides: American and Vietnamese Artists Look at the War“ which opened in 1989, which over the next four years travelled to eighteen U.S. museums and three in Vietnam. After that he curated an exhibition titled “An Ocean Apart: Vietnamese Contemporary Art from the United States and Vietnam“ for the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Service (SITES). Thomas founded the non-profit Indochina Arts Partnership (IAP) in 1988 to develop cultural and educational exchanges between the United States and Vietnam. Through the IAP over the past thirty years he has continued to develop exhibitions and artist exchange programs bringing approximately one hundred Vietnamese artists to the U.S. During all this time Thomas has continued to make his own artwork. His subjects range from lithographs of women and bananas to artists’ books about Ho Chi Minh and Agent Orange.

Course Description: Follow Professor Thomas’s journey from that of a combat artist stationed with the U.S. Army in Pleiku, South Vietnam, (1969-70) and lessons learned through over sixty return trips to Vietnam. This course will take you down a road seldom travelled by American scholars, that of our former enemy and why they joined Ho Chi Minh. While Thomas is not a trained historian, he has spent considerable time making close friendships with many artists and others who we once called our enemy. This course will look at artwork made by artists on both sides of that war as well as Vietnams’ more contemporary young artists and their interpretation of the American War in Vietnam. You will also learn a brief history of Vietnamese fine arts which were begun by the French colonialists in 1925.

The course will discuss numerous subjects related to the war and post-war Vietnam. Subjects will include but are not limited to Ho Chi Minh, Agent Orange, unexploded ordinance, POW and MIA and Vietnam’s political and economic reforms. There will be ample time for participants to raise concerns and ask questions as well as share any personal experiences or memories.

On Leadership

Instructor: Jay R. Kaufman

3 Sessions: May 7, 14, 21

Tuesdays, 10-11:30

Jay R. Kaufman Biosketch: Jay R. Kaufman Founder and President of Beacon Leadership Collaborative, served in the Massachusetts legislature for 24 years. Upon retirement, Jay worked with nine other leadership educators to launch Beacon Leadership Collaborative, a new non-profit dedicated to enhancing leadership skills for people in our civic life. He has taught and consulted on public and non-profit sector leadership for the past three decades. He helped launch the Initiative for Diversity in Civic Leadership, has served on the National Conference of State Legislature’s leadership development faculty for courses in this country, Europe and Africa, served as founding director of Northeastern University’s Center for Leadership and Public Life and, before that, served as founding director of the Massachusetts Bay Consortium, an association of 18 colleges and universities. In addition, he experimented with and experienced leadership failures and successes as a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives between 1995 and 2019.

Course Description: Much has been written on leadership, but what do we really mean by it and what do we want or expect of those we elect to exercise leadership in our name? What happens when they do? What happens when they don’t? What have you taken away from your experience of leading and being led?

Session 1: Thinking about leadership for a change – establishing a common vocabulary for our conversations

Session 2: Your immunity to change – We talk about wanting change, but, as Mark Twain put it, “I’m all for progress; it’s change I can’t stand.“ Through a powerful exercise, we’ll explore what keeps us from the change that our New Year’s resolutions seem to suggest we want to accomplish, and then look to see what insights there are to account for the difficulty in effecting change in our community and country.

Session 3: Your experience with and of leadership – a conversation about the art and craft of leadership

Registration and Fees: Spring 2019

Registration for our winter semester for OWLL begins on February 7th for Lexington residents.
Non-resident registration begins February 14th.

A separate check for each course should be made payable to: Town of Lexington. Resident fee $25/course and non-resident $50/course. Financial aid is available for Lexington residents.
Credit card registration: www.lexingtonma.gov/recreationdepartment.cfm
You may send/deliver a separate check for each course to: Lexington Community Center, 39 Marrett Rd, Lexington, MA 02421

For further information, email owll.fcoa@gmail.com or call the Community Center at 781-698-4870.