Calvin Academy for Lifelong Learning offers classes to senior citizens in the area

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The Calvin Academy for Lifelong Learning (CALL) is a program for people over the age of 50 to take classes at Calvin for a small fee. These classes are taught by Calvin professors and usually last four weeks. The classes typically range from one to three hours.

The students are not necessarily Calvin alumni. “Some people have degrees from Calvin, some people have degrees from other universities, some people were housewives their whole lives and have never been to college,” said professor Becca McBride, who teaches a CALL class. “The classes are on a topic that hopefully appeals to a range of interests.” Some of the classes offered are “The Cold War,” “Biomedical Ethics,” and “Beauty in Minerals.”

McBride says that teaching CALL classes is a lot different than teaching regular classes. “My class is about Russian politics, and when I teach about Russian politics at Calvin, most of my students weren’t even alive when the Soviet Union existed,” she said, “Whereas a lot of my students in CALL remember the Cuban missile crisis or they’ve visited the Soviet Union when it was the Soviet Union, not Russia. I love that about the CALL classes.”

The life experience isn’t the only reason that McBride enjoys teaching the classes. “It’s an amazing way to get ingrained in the community of Grand Rapids. I think Grand Rapids is rare because there’s such a tight-knit community of people who are very highly educated and want education to be part of their life regardless of where they are.”

CALL student Marva Lamberts confirms this. “We are always learning wherever we go. We’re happy for every opportunity to seek the truth.”

Overall, the classes have been a success. “It’s been a blessing,” said Lamberts, who has been taking CALL classes since almost the start of the program in October of 1996. “Every year there are more classes and more people.” Lamberts recommends the program to everyone.

“The students in the CALL classes are very appreciative. They give a lot of feedback. I have cards that they’ve given me. It’s an awesome opportunity to grow together: for me to learn from them, for them to learn from me.” McBride added, “I love it.”