Dear Lifelong Learning Members,

With our move to the Sink building in January, we knew that 2020 would be a year of firsts for BRCLL, but little did we know that it would continue, and is continuing even as you read this. Starting with the cancellation of a whole month of classes in April (a first for BRCLL), we then had to take the devastating but essential decision to cancel the complete summer term! And on a personal level, I think it’s safe to say that most of us have never before had to cope with the very serious health crisis that has had such a profound impact on everything we do.

On a more positive note, I am happy to say the necessary cancellation of our on campus courses has brought about another first – our first online course! On June 22nd Laura Bond taught a class on how to get the most from the virtual learning experience. More than 50 BRCLL members attended in order to become more comfortable with this new way of learning – and they had a great time while doing so! Based on the success of this first virtual course, we are planning to offer two more online classes in August. The first, Living in a Pandemic, Be Well, will take place on Wednesday August 12th at 1pm and is obviously totally relevant to our present troubled times. Then, on Monday August 24th, again at 1pm, you can learn about WNC Submerged Towns, which were flooded to create Asheville’s Watershed.

As you will see from this Newsletter, our Program Committee has gone ahead and planned an interesting and stimulating program for the rest of the year, even though we have been advised that, in order to safeguard our vulnerable population, we will not be able to hold courses on campus. We have therefore arranged these as Zoom courses so that as many BRCLL members as possible will be able to continue enjoying the intellectual stimulus that is so important as we age.

Although I believe nothing beats meeting in a classroom environment, I think we may feel differently about how we gather in the wake of the COVID pandemic. When we are able to return to campus, it may require smaller class sizes to maintain social distancing, and we may also greet each other in a different way than previously. As for online teaching, maybe our experience with adapting to virtual classrooms will give us the confidence to rely on other forms of technology in our lives so that we can stay connected with the world as ageing limits our mobility. Certainly resilience is one of the keys to longevity and, as lifelong learners, hopefully we can welcome the challenges of operating in this new environment.

Stay safe and well, and I look forward to the time when it will be possible for us to meet again in the ‘real’ world.

Margaret Schleifer, President

Blue Ridge Center for Lifelong Learning