Not older, better

WARNING: IF you are a student under 55 years old, reading this column may induce intense jealousy.

Look around you in class once in a while, and you’ll soon figure out that PSU has a diverse student body, especially in terms of age. We have the usual suspects in terms of later-teen, early-20s college-age folks, but we also have a good number of people in their 50s, 60s and better. Some of these students already know about OASIS, the gem on the 10th floor of the Meier and Frank building downtown, but for those who have yet to discover it, here’s some good news.

The OASIS Program (Older Americans Support Information System) offers dozens of special classes and educational events for people over 55 who want to stay active and informed. Not only is it set up in one of the most accessible locations in Portland (right in the middle of a department store), it’s also tailored specifically to the needs of mature students and people who want to keep on learning and growing.

It’s staffed by dedicated professionals, who make it their business to seek out educational and health experiences for mature adults while maintaining a supportive and relaxing environment. Once you wander in past the deli, restaurant and retail space on the same floor, you find that staff ready to help you choose from one of the trips, tours, classes or special events that takes your fancy.

But to get you those opportunities, the staff keeps in touch with other educational institutions, including Portland State, to find topics and teachers to invite to OASIS. Membership fees and class charges are nominal, generally only enough to just cover the materials or the instructors’ pay.

The only hard part is to narrow down your choices of classes and events. They include art classes such as Celtic calligraphy, quilts, and stained glass; computer classes, including Internet and e-mail; consumer topics; film and performance art; fitness and health; humanities topics such as current events and literature study; music and singing and personal development. Upcoming trips include tours of local sights as well as Yosemite, New England, Bend/Crater Lake, Canada, Switzerland and Bangkok/Singapore/Hong Kong. To get you ready the program offers preview classes and even classes on packing. Some of the free events offered recently include an evening of singing by local performers and lectures from experts on the Lewis and Clark expedition. The program even has its own resident theater troupe, performing works by Shaw and Feiffer at the end of this month.

If you’re over 55 and want to take advantage of this great program, get down to the 10th floor of Meier and Frank weekdays from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. or call (503) 241-3059.