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U3A in Scotland Newsletter - September 2018

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U3A in Scotland Summer School 21 – 23 August 2018

The 2018 Summer School was considered a great success by the 51 delegates who attended from 19 member U3As. The event was held in the West Park Conference Centre, Dundee, an ideal venue as the accommodation, meeting rooms, dining room and bar were all situated close together. There were tables on the lawn for delegates to sit outside during breaks, weather permitting.

Each delegate had chosen one of four topics: American History, Craft, Ecology or Geology. The craft sessions were held at Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA) Centre, while seminars for the other topics were held at the West Park Conference Centre on Tuesday afternoon, Wednesday morning and afternoon, and Thursday morning. Delegates were able to study their chosen topic in depth during this time.

The American History group was led by tutor Jim Ashwood from Dundee U3A. The sessions covered the Civil Rights movement in the US from the end of the American Civil War in 1865 to the present day. There was particular focus on the role of Martin Luther King in the 1960s and the important people and organisations supporting him, including Presidents John F Kennedy and Lyndon B Johnson. The history and culture of the civil rights movement has been built up over hundreds of years and the story is still developing.

The Craft group went on Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday to the DCA for sessions led by DCA staff. The finished products of members’ work included small wall hangings made by table weaving and colourful bags (pictured) made by stenciling on freezer paper, printed with acrylic paint, with embroidery on top. This was a very sociable group as one member commented: ‘we could talk the whole time’. The Thursday session unfortunately had been cancelled; members could choose to join other groups for the morning.

The Ecology topic, led by Bob Batty from Oban U3A, focused on the oceans and marine environment. According to participants, many impressive statistics were presented and a high academic level was maintained, but Bob was always prepared to answer questions. The sessions were greatly enjoyed: ‘a wonderful experience, one of the most enthusiastic events I have ever attended’. Bob Batty claimed he had loved every minute and thanked the participants.

The Geology topic was enthusiastically led by Alison Tymon from East Berwickshire U3A, with a combination of presentations by Alison and participative practical work looking at samples of rocks, minerals and fossils. Participants had brought samples of rocks from all over Scotland, together with leaflets from geological sites. Topics studied included minerals, the three main types of rocks, volcanoes and earthquakes, ice ages, the geology of Scotland and 4.6 billion years of the geological time scale, illustrated by Alison’s knitted scarf (pictured).

The social side of the Summer School was much enjoyed by delegates who appreciated the opportunity to meet and socialise with people from other U3As during refreshment breaks, meal times, drinks in the bar and free time to relax and enjoy the surroundings. After dinner on Tuesday there was an entertaining Quiz. On Wednesday evening the celebration dinner was attended by the Lord Provost of Dundee, Ian Borthwick and his wife; the after dinner musical entertainment was provided by a group of talented young musicians from St Paul’s RC Academy, Dundee (pictured).

A final session of feedback for all delegates was held on Thursday morning when participants reported back from the topic groups and on their overall enjoyment of the event. The Summer School was considered very well organised by Pat Garland of Dundee U3A and former Chair of U3A in Scotland, assisted by members of Dundee U3A and by Kath Payne, Chair of U3A in Scotland. Kath Payne gave a vote of thanks to Pat Garland and presented her with a beautiful bouquet of flowers (pictured). As delegates went home they were already looking forward to the next Summer School, planned for 2020.