USF Confucius Institute Outreach to Senior Citizens: A Partnership with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute
June 25, 2015
The USF Confucius Institute (CI) has had great success exploring a variety of ways to better integrate the hosting university and connect with Tampa Bay communities, including K-12 schools. Innovation and collaboration is key to sustainable development of any CI.
Since 2011, the USF CI has provided nine classes on Chinese cultures and history, as well as one basic Chinese language class. Each class runs four to six weeks and has demonstrated quite an interest from the community: more than 50 students registered for a class on religious beliefs in China. However, the most effective program in recent years is the outreach to senior citizens and the CI’s partnership with the USF Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), a membership-based organization of adults over age 50 who come together to form a community of learners.
The USF Confucius Institute co-sponsored lectures and cultural events that have attracted hundreds of OLLI members. The partnership is continuing to grow as the CI recently helped OLLI with its first group tour to China in the spring.
The benefits of the CI outreach to local senior citizens continue to multiply after several years of partnerships between the institute and OLLI, as well as other Tampa Bay organizations including retirement centers in Pinellas County. There is a great need for all CIs to outreach to senior citizens, especially in southern states like Florida with large numbers of retired residents.
Many senior citizens have interests in Chinese history and culture and want to better understand contemporary China, which complements the CI mission of fostering cross-cultural understanding. In addition, senior citizens have time and resources to participate in activities and classes, and they are willing to share the experience with their family and friends.
USF’s CI will continue to co-sponsor non-credit classes on Chinese cultures and society, attracting more and more participants to the educational events. With a combination of good planning and dedicated efforts in building partnerships, all Confucius Institutes can achieve similar objectives and sustain the CI mission of building bridges across cultures.