Extended University popular with over-60 set

By Amy Fredette

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Learning continues well beyond the acceptance of a diploma.

For some, the learning experience spans several decades.

This is the driving force behind the University of Arizona's Extended University program called Elderhostel, a national organization for people over the age of 60.

The Boston-based program features "mostly liberal arts-type courses," said Winifred Reilly, director of the University of Arizona's Extended University's Elderhostel program.

Classes are taught by UA faculty and "outside adjunct faculty," Reilly said.

"Our program is very successful because people really want to know about the Southwest, particularly Native Americans," Reilly said.

Elderhostel participant Charles J. Miller said he heard about the program through friends who had attended several of them.

Miller, who is from New York, is attending the Yiddish Language program this week with his wife, Madelyne.

Miller said that this program has helped to "revive (memories of) many members of his family" and "happy, familiar experiences."

"The people are quite stimulating and interesting," Miller said. "It's a good deal of pleasure sharing experiences with other people."

Other aspects of Extended University Elderhostel courses include witnessing Native American ceremonies and learning about the beauty of the desert and the culture of Mexico.

Reilly said that there are 50 people per class and that there is usually a "huge" waiting list.

In order to accommodate a larger number of people, the Elderhostel program holds "double sessions," Reilly said. These sessions are able to host 100 people by alternating classes.

The Arizona classes are offered between September and June, at four different sites including the Executive Inn, the White Stallion Guest Ranch, the Picture Rocks Retreat in Tucson and the Americana Hotel in Nogales.

"The University of Arizona was the first (educational facility) to go commercial," Reilly said. "Prior to that, only dormitory spaces were used."

The Elderhostel program offers the opportunity to travel to any of the other 49 states, but lodging is a mix between resident halls and commercial facilities, said Reilly.

The cost of the Arizona program is $380 for one week. Classes begin on a Sunday and end after breakfast the following Saturday. The fee includes hotel, meals (17 total), three classes and all field trips and activities.

"I am certainly impressed with the breadth and eclectic extent of this program and what it has to offer," Miller said.

"I find the faculty to be most dedicated," Miller said.

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