U3A president Jennifer Somerville (centre) with Lynn Smith and Lesley Olivieri from the hand embroidery group.
U3A president Jennifer Somerville (centre) with Lynn Smith and Lesley Olivieri from the hand embroidery group.

U3A better than four walls

The University of the Third Age (U3A) was started as a summer school at the University of Toulouse in France in 1972. It offered retired people a program of lectures, concerts, guided tours and other cultural activities by making use of lecture halls and classrooms that were not being used at that time of year.

It has since spread all over the world and its popularity in the Northern Rivers seems to be growing, with around 620 members.

They are able to participate in classes every day of the week ranging from photography to Japanese history, Islam in a Nutshell or learning a new language.

“There is no reason to sit at home and stare at the four walls just because you are retired,” U3A Northern Rivers president Jennifer Somerville said.

Last Thursday U3A had their open day for new and returning members at the Lismore Workers Club. Tutors from each of the various groups had stalls set up so they could meet with people who might be interested in what they are doing.

“The courses we offer depend on who is available to teach them. It’s about people sharing their expertise – because when people with expertise retire, their expertise doesn’t,” Jennifer said.

She said the third age, which comes after you have finished your career and child-raising, is a time for personal fulfilment.

As well as the courses, U3A offers guest speakers every Tuesday at the Goonellabah Workers Sports Club and also the Friday forum, where they discuss topics such as ‘Should Australia limit its population?’ and ‘How useful is the art of compromise?’.

Lesley Olivieri from the hand embroidery group has been involved for about eight years and said within their group, about half come because they are really into doing embroidery and the other half came for the social aspect.

“It’s another way to meet friends and catch up,” she said.

For more information about what U3A has to offer, visit the website at www.u3anriv.org.au or phone secretary Lorraine Ryan on 6624 2670.


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