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Saturday, November 05, 2016

University of the Third Age (U3A) fosters lifelong learning | New Zealand Herald

Photo: Juliet Rowan
"Keeping the mind active in the "third age"" summarizes Juliet Rowan, reporter for Bay of Plenty Times Weekend.

Rotorua U3A president Peter Wood says belonging to the lifelong learning group is a great way to keep the mind active and meet like-minded people. 
Photo/Stephen Parker
Always wanted to learn Spanish, study art history, or join a book club?

Maybe you'd like to discuss philosophy or science, go walking with others, or have a go at photography or crochet?

The reasons for lifelong learning are compelling and as a growing body of research shows, both mental and physical fitness are crucial to wellbeing as the body ages.

The University of the Third Age is an international movement dedicated to lifelong learning and gives participants a chance to pursue interests in the company of others.

The movement, known as U3A, is flourishing in the Bay of Plenty among people in the "third age" - the stage of life after the first age of childhood and the second age of full-time work and parental responsibility.

Bay wide, U3A groups hold regular meetings in people's homes, cafes, restaurants, churchs, halls and the outdoors, members learning from one another.

There are book and film clubs, history discussions, music appreciation, crafts, walking groups, photography and more.

In Rotorua, U3A has more than 300 members and almost 30 groups, including Pacific Studies, a Grey Warblers choral group, and Knitting and Crochet Enthusiasts.

Those with a passion for food have created an ethnic dining group.

Peter Wood is president of U3A Rotorua and says the organisation is enjoying its highest membership yet.

It has grown to 320 members and he says always welcomes more.

"It's a great opportunity to keep your mind active once you retire and meet interesting people who have a similar attitude to life."

Peter is a retired geologist who spent his career working in volcanology and geothermal exploration for Crown instiutes.

Now in his mid 70s, he convenes Rotorua U3A's philosophy group and is also a member of the Pacific Studies and walking groups.

The Pacific Studies group has discussed topics including Polynesian colonisation of the Pacific, while the walking group takes walks in the countryside up to 2.5 hours long.

The walks happen within a 20 minute drive of Rotorua and Peter says they vary in difficulty, the easier ones on the 2nd Friday of each month and the harder ones on the 4th.

In his philosophy group, Peter says they tackle topics such as euthanasia in their meetings, which also happen bi-monthly.

"It's practical philosophy of life stuff rather than dealing with old philosophers such as Aristotle. The idea of the philosophy group is to make people think."

Membership to U3A Rotorua is $10 per year and bi-monthly members' meetings are held in the bridge club rooms at Neil Hunt Park on Tarawera Rd.

Source: New Zealand Herald  

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