Making learning really a part of “really” living

When you’ve spent most of your life learning to make a living, how do you make the transition to learning for the simple sake of learning?

For many people older than 50, that’s a familiar situation.

As a result of the learning we’ve done so far, we have been able to provide for our families. But, after a certain age at which we no longer have to worry as much about making a living, or our nest is empty, we may face the question: What do we do now?

Some people will say retirement is about just enjoying life. After all, you’ve earned it!

For others, however, shifting gears is not as easy. We’ve been too busy and feel the need to remain that way.

So how do you begin? How best can you experience new things, meet new friends, try a hobby we have been meaning to for years or, even, share a talent we’ve gained over the years?

That’s the focus of an innovative program I oversee for Diakon Community Services. It’s called Diakon Living & Learning After 50.

For nearly a decade now, the program has offered classes in everything under the sun at sites throughout Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania—workshops on yoga, painting, writing, antiquing, eBay, dancing, scuba diving, learning a new language and a host of other topics.

Our class atmosphere is informal and fun, allowing people to mingle while still focused on learning or teaching.

During this time, I have seen many friendships blossom as a result of attending weekly exercise classes; witnessed participants create a support system or reunite with old friends or co-workers.

I have watched wondrous transformations, as someone stares at a blank canvas, doubt eventually overtaken by a special spark as the person creates a beautiful painting, saying “that’s something I’ve wanted to try for years.”

With this need in mind, we develop our courses, classes, and special events to appeal to as broad a range of interests and abilities as possible.

And all geared to making certain that learning remains a pivotal part of life, even if the focus is more on fun than making a living!

Susan Long
Diakon Living & Learning after 50 Coordinator

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