These students can even be kindly envied, because their life is rich and vivid: they bring medals from sports competitions from abroad, they extremely interestingly spend all holidays, work for charitable causes and, of course, attend lectures. Most of them have modern gadgets. They easily use Privat-24, pay for utilities on the Internet, chat with Skype and have profiles on Facebook. And the oldest student is almost 90 years old.
At the end of June, in Lutsk, took place the Health Forum for students of retired age from the entire oblast. The event was organized by the non-government organization “Education Center “University of Third Age” together with the hospital. They need it. It is necessary for them to feel confident in order to keep up with the present, in order not to feel abandoned and lonely. Moreover, in order to give them these wonderful feelings, approximately thirty people work on it. All these indifferent people from the non-government organization are volunteers. Nowadays it may sound somewhat improbable, but they all work for free. Their goal is to make happy retired people.
HOW EVERYTHING STARTED…
The non-government organization “Education Center “University of Third Age “ exists the second year. From 2013 to 2016 it has been an unique project as part of the Volyn Institute of Economics and Management – “the Third Age Education Center”, funded by the Tempus European Union (now Erasmus Plus) program. This is an interregional program of the European Neighborhood and Partnership.
The aim and objectives of the project were the development, accumulation and management of human capital through the proliferation of education throughout life, the inclusion of older people in social systems of non-formal education and advanced training in Azerbaijan, Russia and Ukraine. These three countries have become pilot sites. Experts are Poland, Slovakia, Portugal, Spain, Malta, Scotland and Italy. The first part of the project was to travel abroad to gain experience, where such projects have been operating for a long time and successfully.
As the head of the non-government organization Oksana Stepaniuk told us, the first trip was to Poland. It is interesting that the “Third Age Universities” there exist only in higher education institutions and to some extent supported by the state. In Malta, there are Centers of the day, where elder people are brought, as to the kindergarten. From Slovakia to Lutsk the idea of a various sport competitions was brought.
The project also aimed to carry out awareness raising campaigns for the society and the academic community on the education of people of the Third Age in the partner countries.
“Within the framework of the project, we have received funding for the purchase of a computer class. We have purchased fifteen computers and office equipment for conducting the training process. It is within 30 thousand euros. We also paid for our trips abroad and financed meetings of foreign guests at our place”, – says Oksana Stepaniuk.
But the project and funding have ended in 2016. However, there were two hundred people, who wanted to learn more. Therefore, a bold decision was taken – the University will work further. For students, the fee was introduced 50 UAH per month. This is the main means for which the University exists. Also at the expense of philanthropists, volunteers and organizations.
HOW TO BECOME A STUDENT AFTER 50
At the University of the Third Age, elder people can learn computer literacy, learn English and Polish, attend classes on age and art psychology, and the cultural and artistic events are also held. Students can become anyone interested, who are of 50 years old and more. Today there are about 150 students at the University.
Here the academic year begins on October 1. This year you can become a student by registering through the Internet. In addition, Facebook has an official page of the University. Moreover, on September 25 at 15.00 at the library-branch for adults number 10, there will be meetings for future students for the 2018-2019 academic year.
The program itself is very busy. Every week lectures are delivered by doctors, representatives from the pension fund, employment center, administration, various departments. Students can go abroad several times per year. According to Oksana Mykolaivna, in September they were in Slovakia. Four days spent in competitions, excursions, friendly communication. Many cities in Poland have visited as well. They were in Vienna, Budapest, Dresden. Students take part in charity events. They wore a grid, made angels of happiness under the guidance of Masters Natalia Buhai for ATO soldiers, and collected the necessary things and means for them.
The first holiday during the training is the Student’s Day. And at the same time – it is a professional holiday at the University.
“We thought for a long time who we are and what our professional holiday is. In most centers where elder people are engaged, they celebrate at the Day of the Elderly. We are trying not to use such a term at all. These people are of a respectable, not an elderly age, “says the interlocutress.
Therefore, the Student’s Day leaves many impressions. Everyone who studies at the University receives a student card. The celebration is always held at the Svityaz Restaurant. After all, this very restaurant for many is a reminder of the pleasant moments of youth. The restaurant’s management is always ready to help. Famous singers and actors come to welcome. All of them come as volunteers, and each such meeting quite pleases the culprits of the celebration.
Ukrainian folk evening parties brilliantly take place. No less interesting was the New Year party, where all students were dressed in costumes of the sixties. Danced rock’n’roll, twist, disco. The Old New Year, of course, was generous for carols. On the feast of the Epiphany many people swam. Most of those who dared, did it for the first time in their lives.
A beautiful literary evening was held on the day of lovers, where everyone read the poetry, which is a soul close. The summer kaleidoscope was spent with coffee where the achievements and plans for the future were discussed. Recently in the camp “Sonyachnyi” a mini-competition Health Day was held. The weekends with overnight on the banks of the river were also. Someone was fishing, someone put tents, and someone made dumplings. Together with their parents went to have a rest their children and even had two grandchildren.
On April 20, the Inspira Art-Psychology Festival was held. Thanks to it, people of respectable age became familiar with new possibilities of self-expression. The festival showed that it is interesting and necessary, so it will be held in future.
However, the biggest event will be held in August – the 2nd International Summer Festival “Sports for All for Health”. It was copied from Poland and Slovakia. This festival started last year.
The participants from Poland, Lithuania and Turkey came to Lutsk. Many of them come not only to the competition, which lasts for each participant for 5-7 minutes. They also wanted to see Volyn. More participants are expected this year. It is pleasant to note that the non-government organization has won a competition for local initiatives for Festival and will receive co-financing from the regional budget in amount of 96 thousand hryvnia.
FIRST GRADUATION TO BE IN 2020
According to Oksana Stepaniuk, they plan to implement a network of “Universities of the Third Age” in the Volyn region as part of libraries. She is confident that they will be able to do this in a few years. After all, they have enough experience and they are ready to share it. Today, the University pays great attention to the development of the silver economy. For example, student Oksana Pryshchepa gives master classes on drawing on water – “Ebro”. She is very happy with what she does.
An unusual student is the master of sports Yuri Horobets. As the interlocutress explained, he is an ideologist and initiator of all senioradas (sport competitions for elderly).
The first graduation of the “Third Age University” is scheduled for 2020. No one wants to do this earlier, because it will mean that for many of them the life of a student will end. Nevertheless, coming to the University, traveling, lectures – for many retirees, this is the only way out. About thirty non-indifferent people who are concerned with the fate of these special students are attracted to work in the organization.
“We saw that people are positively inspired, communicate with each other, have achievements in the competitions – and this is very inspiring, encouraging them to work on themselves. Today, we are not aiming to expand the organization – it is important for us that these people, who are with us – do not leave us. Many perceive our University as a center where elderly are entertained.
There are elements of entertainment, of course. We take part in events taking place in the city. But, first of all we have an educational process. We want to give people the knowledge they need in today’s world. The most popular, of course, are computer literacy courses. No less are interested in learning or improving English. The third place takes the age psychology “- says Oksana Stepaniuk.
WHO WANTS TO LEARN, LEARNS EASY
The curious fact is that there are volunteers who came to the University as students. This is, for example, Kateryna Melnyk. Today she is the administrator of the Center, a person with an active life position, and in the past – a student. As a teacher-volunteer for computer literacy came and Liudmyla Lysiuk. For the second year, she is a student at the same time.
“I heard about the University from a friend who already studied there. Therefore, I went as a teacher, and now I continue to study. We are doing everything together, we are friendly. I have many friends at the University; I also bring my friends there. And they like it, they stay to learn. We are actively engaged in sports. I went to the Olympiad abroad, as well as take part in local competitions and in all the events that are being held. As a teacher, I teach students to chat in Skype, work on Facebook, how to use Privat-24, pay for utility services, find the right information how to order train tickets. With such students, it is not difficult. For if a person wants to know something, it is easier to teach.
Compared with ordinary students, whom I taught at the Academy of Accounting and Audit Statistics, after lesson, they all rushed home and did not always listen to what I wanted to say. The students at the “Third Age University” stay after lectures, they want to learn more, ask many questions: how to do this or that? Many of them have modern gadgets that children have presented to them, but most people cannot use them. At first, of course, they are afraid to press an extra key, but then everything becomes well”, – tells about life at the University Liudmyla Vadymivna.
Student Liudmyla Sadovska, who came to the Health Forum, uses the knowledge gained at the University, giving workshops for her grandchildren and their friends. She mastered straps and embroidery ribbons. As a schoolgirl, she studied French and German, she now gladly learns English.
“For people of this age, no matter how to call it – golden, respectable, elderly, – training at the University is very necessary. Although we have graduated from schools and institutes. The life goes in such a matter that you do not know what is waiting for you tomorrow. These skills that we acquire can help us. I have many like-minded people at the University, that after mastering some technique, can start small own production. Alternatively, we can teach youth.
I have been in the University for two years, but I will continue to study further. It is a charge for our mind and brain, so not to get old, but to be toned and live. Life at the University is very interesting. As far as I am able to do this due to my health, I take part in sport competitions, excursions, trips, cultural and educational programs. I think that all who are our students do not lose anything. On the contrary – in their achievements they put a big plus”, – says Liudmyla Sadovska.
THE UNIVERSITY BRINGS TO LIFE
Oksana Stepaniuk and Kateryna Melnyk are grateful to all who help in carrying out of all the events. These are a lot of municipal services, departments, Volyn Oblast and city health centers “Sport for All”, city and regional councils, state administration. In addition, the money of the students themselves is involved – the monthly tuition fee.
Special thanks to all teachers. All of them are volunteers. These are Serhii Blazhenchuk, Liudmyla Lysiuk, Tetiana Vetskur, Yuliia Arseniuk, Fliura Pavliuchenkova, Oksana Ivanova, Oksana Tarasiuk, Victoriia Mukhamedova, Lesia Bondaruk, Valentyna Volynets, Natalia Olianska, Svitlana Bakun, Svitlana Demchuk, Halyna Forostoian, Halyna Zaniuk, Tetiana Zaporozhets, Viacheslav Berezin, Kostiantyn Antoniuk and others.
For the development of Third Age Universities in Ukraine, the Association of Third-Age Universities “Klepsydra” was founded. The university is a member of the Association. Many thanks to the President of the Association Professor Horbovyi Artur Yulianovych and Vice President Khaletska Alina Anatoliivna for the constant assistance, friendly support and joint activity on the development of the Third Age University in Lutsk.
It is splendid that there are such people who are concerned about fate of others. They are few, but they are sincere and inspired, confident and purposeful. That is why elder people come to them. They come to the University, because they feel that they are needed and important there. After all, without exaggeration, they are brought back to life there.
The story was originally published on Rayon.in.ua