Universities of the Third Age are one of the most attractive learning and leisure time activities for older people.
Marijampoles University of the Third Age (U3A) at Marijampole College is opened on 1st March 2005. At first it was the branch of Vilnius U3A. On 9th May we registered the University as independent educational organization. Legal status – Association. University Manager – Director Ona Sakalauskiene. During the first school year, 250 students’ seniors attended the University. This school year, the University is celebrating its 10th anniversary.
Students – seniors deepen their knowledge in 15 faculties:
- A healthy lifestyle
- Spiritual Development
- Culture and Arts
- Foreign Languages (English, German, French –8 groups of different levels)
- Music (choir, two women vocal ensembles “Jaunystes aidas“ and “Gija“, ethnographic ensemble “Senapile“ and dance studio)
- Physical Activity and Physical Therapy Faculty
- Political Debate
- Information Technology
- Style and Fashion
The most numerous faculties – Healthy Lifestyle – 107 students, Psychology – 106 students, Culture and Arts – 55 students and etc.
Faculties are headed by deans. The great faculties also have Deputy Deans. There are 29 lectures volunteers in the university.
There are various forms of trainings: lectures, workshops, tours, trips, science days in Lithuanian higher schools; essay contests, meetings with interesting people – members of the Seimas, members of Euro Parliament, actors, composers, wellness days in Birstono sanatorium “Tulpe“ and the Royal residence, exhibitions, parties, commemorations, concerts. The faculty foresees the learning programme for each year and implements it. E.g.: the faculty of Culture and Arts implemented the programme “Ethno-culture” last year. Faculty of Psychology – “Communication Features“, Faculty of Political Debate – “Citizenship Education programme“ and etc. each year spent at the university leaves pleasant memories and positive emotions.
The year 2012 – was announced as seniors’ active movement and generations’ solidarity year. The President of the Republic of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaite took part in the academic year celebration at our university. 2011-2012 academic years were full of activities in our university too.
Our sustainable and large team strengthens nice and pleasant to our heart traditions: anniversaries celebration, Mass for university people and their families, at St. Christmas and Easter, commemoration of adult education weeks, friendship and co-operation with other Lithuanian and foreign Universities of the Third Age.
Trips to foreign countries became a nice tradition of the university. Trips – a real-life aroma. They are discovery of world and recognition. You become as if cleaner and more close to the world you live in while travelling. We travel a lot following these words of Socrates. We had 38 foreign trips during these eight years. We have visited Egypt, Turkey, Israel, Jordan, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and other countries of the European Union.
Our vocal ensemble “Jaunystes aidas“ won the Grand Prix in the International Seniors Choir and vocal ensembles contest in Warsaw in 2011.
Our University participated in Grundtvig voluntary Project “From heart to heart” with Denmark Odense seniors’ home in 2012 – 2013. Also seniors remember those wonderful days when Danish seniors visited us. Our volunteers also were highly assessed in Odense.
In 2012 we were invited by our German friends to the seniors’ academy in Anhalt Higher School. German seniors met us very friendly and hospitably. Our 3 concerts were warmly accepted in Germany. Exclusive attention brought us closer together, encouraged to continue our cooperation in developing new projects, exchanging delegations and concert programmes for the better understanding of daily and cultural life of German and Lithuanian seniors.
It should be mentioned in the international seniors song festival – contest “Daina – mūsų jaunystes sparnai” (Song – our youth wings) which was held in Marijampole. It was amusing two days entertainment. 14 ensembles and 120 artists took part in the festival. We hope that everybody left our country with good impressions. This is proved by entries in guestbook.
In autumn of 2014 academic year we will hold international festival of folk groups of seniors. In addition to Lithuanian seniors visitors from Germany, Poland, Denmark, Latvia, and Belarus will participate in it. We would like to see as many participants from foreign countries as possible. We hope that there will be more willing to participate in the festival with their national costumes and songs after reading about us.
University is the active participant of the events held in our city and republic. For several consecutive years we are participating in campaigns ,”Mamos skrynia“ (Mother’s coffer) and collect clothes, beds, prams and other things for poor mothers and their newborns, contribute foodstuff for Maltese Order, who announced the campaign “Vargstantiems – karšta sriuba“ (Hot soup for poor), annually decorate your city, participate in campaigns ,”Darom“ (Let’s do it) and ,,Žydintis tiltas“ (Flowering bridge), participate in campaign of kindness for children with oncologic dideases ,,Spalvotas pavasaris“( Colourful spring) and TV show ,,Bėdų turgus“ (Trouble Market).
U3A activities success is determined by actively working elders club. Elders club meets once a month and discusses any relevant issues and future plans. They are Always in the front lines and do not need any encouragement. There are also many listeners of our university who offer help, actively participate in the events not only as listeners, but as active as supporters too. Faculty deans, lectures sincerely work in the university sparing time and without remuneration. Lectures come from Vilnius, Kaunas, Siauliai and other cities and give lectures for seniors for free. This is the gold fund of University of the Third Age. This is the foundation on which the entire University is based.
Who is funding the University? Seniors themselves (they pay 70 LTL – 20 EUR for a two-year training in one faculty), also we gain funds from projects, individual sponsors including funds from children and grandchildren of our seniors. The municipality also supports us due to the provided projects.
Let the seniors universities always survive. They are the source of energy, youth and health for elderly people. We are happy, hungry for knowledge gray-haired students. I wish everyone good health, great relatives and friends love, meaningful self-dependence, life without the burden of disability and expectations fulfilment.
The Director of Marijampole University of the Third Age