On Thursday, January 12, Cana Academy launched a new initiative in continuing education among our senior neighbors. VISIONS, a monthly seminar series created expressly for seniors, held its inaugural presentation at Hubbard Hill Retirement Community in Elkhart, Indiana.
Billed as VISIONS: Inspirational People, Art & Music, the series engages senior participants in a lively kind of learning: Each month a Cana Academy presenter offers a brief, visual-based lecture and leads a seminar discussion on the topic at hand. The title of the inaugural VISIONS event was Marc Chagall: Émigré Artist who Loved America.
As the event began, CA president Andrew Zwerneman prefaced his presentation with a few comments on the VISIONS initiative: “All of us want to be inspired. We long for vision—to encourage us, to give us hope for the future.”
The lecture part of the program covered Marc Chagall’s life and work, with a special focus on two of his masterpieces on display in the Art Institute of Chicago: White Crucifixion and America Windows. The seminar discussion focused exclusively on White Crucifixion, and at the end of the event, each participant received a print of the painting. Later, an email went out to all the participants with a list of websites where they could learn more about Marc Chagall and the masterpieces discussed in the VISIONS presentation.
In advance of the seminar component of the event, Zwerneman encouraged everyone to join in the discussion. There were two sessions that day. In the afternoon session, forty percent of the Hubbard Hill residents participated in the seminar discussion; in the evening session, ninety percent participated.
“I was very pleased with the inaugural event,” Zwerneman commented. “The Hubbard Hill residents are beautiful, and their comments and questions were insightful and probing. And we all had such a good time. We laughed a lot. We grew in friendship. I think we all grew in our understanding of Marc Chagall’s work.”
A number of the residents lingered after the seminar. One woman shared that she had never known how to look at modern art; now, after the VISIONS seminar, she is going to study it, especially Chagall. One of the men wants to learn more about Cana Academy and to correspond about its mission. Two brothers who attended asked some great questions about Chagall’s history and swapped ideas with Andrew on reading more about 20th century history.
The Cana Academy team visits Hubbard Hill on the second Thursday of each month and has developed VISIONS as the model for future seminars. We plan to extend VISIONS to a lot of other senior residences. The program meets a real need for continuing education and is one of our most effective ways to build the best culture.
We look forward to many more road trips to meet our senior neighbors.
All images by Helen DeCelles-Zwerneman.