Univ. reaches out to community with BILL program

By Siobhan Murray



The Bucknell Institute for Lifelong Learning (BILL) continues to host “Lunch and Learn with BILL” and “Tea and Talk” programs this semester. These informal lunch programs, free of charge and open to the general public, have grown out of the institute’s larger objective of providing college-level learning opportunities to mature learners in the local community. The events are held in partnership with Buffalo Valley Lutheran Village and are held at The Village Common on Tressler Boulevard in Lewisburg. Refreshments and lunch are provided for participants.

“Lunch and Learn” and “Tea and Talk” are designed to take place outside of class times so that they do not cause scheduling conflicts for the members of the institute. The program’s presenters have been University-affiliated staff and retirees. Participants are typically in the over-60 crowd.
“We’ve had participants from 18 to well over 80,” BILL coordinator Ruth Burnham said.
The “Lunch and Learn” series includes discussions about politics, biology, language and aging. Also, “Tea and Talk,” a newer program, focuses broadly on the arts. This semester, BILL’s “Lunch and Learn” programs have featured associate professor of anthropology Michelle Johnson, who discussed “Islam on the Margins: Religion and Ritual Among the Mandinga of Guinea-Bissau” on Jan. 24, and associate professor of biology Marie Pizzorno’s talk, “Do Honeybees Get Sick? Viruses that Infect an Important Pollinator” on Feb. 9.
“With any science topic, the jargon and concepts can sometimes get tough to understand, but the audience seemed to follow the discussion and responded with great questions,” Pizzorno said.
On March 13 at 3:30 p.m. at “Tea and Talk,” associate professor of theatre and dance Paula Davis will present “In Search of Balkan Folk Dress: Revealing Identities.” Additionally, on April 10 at noon, presidential professor of classics Janet Jones will host “Alexander the Great and the Seven Wonders of the World.” It is likely that attendance will be high for these discussions, as the programs have been very popular with usually 60-140 people in attendance.
Although largely a program for older members of the Lewisburg community, opportunities for student involvement are always open.
“I could imagine students co-presenting in classes, depending on topics, schedule, etc. We’d welcome student ideas on how they might like to be involved,” Burnham said.
The program has reached its goal of providing the Central Susquehanna Community with educational and intellectual opportunities that reflect the University’s value of a liberal arts education and emphasis on the importance of lifelong learning.
“Just because people are retired doesn’t mean they want to turn their brains off,” Pizzorno said.
The BILL program goes to show the importance of giving anyone with an intellectual interest a venue to learn.
“[It] has succeeded in drawing in those who enjoy learning for the sake of learning, and sharing with others who have similar interests,” Burnham said. “The program has proved to be a great way for newcomers to the area to meet members of the community, and we have heard stories of people who have based part of their decision to retire to this area on the existence of this program.”
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