Community colleges have a long history of providing access to lifelong learning opportunities to its local residents. In addition to traditional college courses and workforce training, most of the 58 community colleges in North Carolina offer cultural learning programs to residents and students.
In 2007, Craven Community College (CCC) opened its Lifetime Learning Center (LLC) to offer cultural learning experiences to students, residents and retirees in Craven County. The LLC offers a variety of local, regional and global learning opportunities in its “Explorations 2013-14” program. Throughout the year, local residents and students have the opportunity to watch free films, explore the arts through performances, as well as travel to destinations in North Carolina, the region, the U.S. and abroad. Upcoming trips include Seagrove Pottery tour in Winston-Salem, N.C. and the Rhine River tour through Switzerland, France, Germany and The Netherlands.
“We created the Lifetime Learning center to connect the local community with cultural learning experiences from North Carolina, the United States and around the world,” stated Jennifer Baer, coordinator for CCC Foundation outreach and the LLC. Baer says that ideas for activities and events come from the people in the community. Every summer the film committee, which is made up of local residents, watch and rate over 40 films to determine which films will be shown during the next year’s international film series. As many as 500 people attend each of the free film events.
“We’ve really enjoyed the day trips, foreign films, lectures and international travel that the Lifetime Learning Center offers,” stated Joel Kaplan. Kaplan and his wife, Nancy, say they have enjoyed the people they’ve met and the friendships they’ve made. Kaplan added, “The college and the LLC are tremendous assets and it made us feel more part of the community.”
As a child, Kaplan passed through New Bern during several trips with his family from Florida to New York. Many years later, in the spring of 2006, the Kaplans traveled to the area on vacation and by December 2006, they called New Bern home. One important criteria for their retirement location was that there be a college or university nearby. Since moving to New Bern, they have taken advantage of many of the educational activities and programs that CCC and the LLC has offered. They recently signed up for the LLC’s “Castles on the Rhine” international trip scheduled for May 2014 to celebrate their 25th anniversary.
As an outreach program of the CCC Foundation, the LLC is able to offer and host events because of donations from companies and individuals in the local community. LLC also raises money for the college’s Foundation from its activities and trips. The Foundation is a nonprofit organization that provides scholarships to CCC students and funds other educational initiatives at the college.
For more information about the Lifetime Learning Center at CCC, contact Jennifer Baer at 252-633-2618. For a complete schedule of upcoming events and registration deadlines, visit: http://www.cravencc.edu/foundation.
Deborah Kania is the director of marketing, communications and development liaison at Craven Community College.
Article originally appeared in the New Bern Sun Journal.