Follow your passion: Change the world for the better
A forty something woman from the
marketing world practices to become a
celebrant, a performer of innovative,
personalized ceremonies marking life's important
moments. People concerned about vanishing languages study them online. In upstate New York, people with disabilities learn how to lead the kind of life
that most of us take for granted.
Other learners hone their leadership skills or study badly needed alternative energy applications.
Welcome to the wide world of lifelong
learning-a.k.a. continuing education-as it looks in
2006. What these and other nontraditional kinds of tutelage have in common is a unique approach to
learning, aimed at helping people
start a new career, improve a current one, or simply enlarge their lives. More
people are indulging passions for
lifelong learning than ever before-and the channels through which they're doing it have never been more varied.
Thanks to the Internet, geography hardly matters
anymore. "There's a whole new online
market for learning that will grow exponentially for the next several years, Robinson notes. "It already grew 434 percent from 2004 to 2005. Almost all universities now offer online learning, and more than 40 schools offer [online] master's degree programs. The Internet is a great leveler and tool for empowerment. With life spans increasing, more people will want to be engaged in
personal fulfillment of some kind,
especially if they're not working or
are unable to work and are physically confined."
At the Celebrant USA Foundation and Institute in Montclair,
New Jersey, students learn how to create and lead ceremonies
that run the gamut from innovative weddings and funerals to rites that mark adoptions, divorces, and the loss of jobs.
Local students attend
classes at the Montclair headquarters, a
handsome Victorian house, while others study online.
Modeled after programs that started in Australia,
Celebrant USA gas grown
steadily from 7 graduates in 2001 (mostly from New Jersey) to
50 from 15 states and Canada in 2005. Celebrants
are playing Key roles in
their communities, says Charlotte Eulette, national director and a celebrant herself. "We're giving a lot of professionals
new, meaningful careers that touch
other people's lives in a much more personalized way than many traditional ceremonies can."
Humber College, Surya Vyas will soon add CPA to his name. Born in India, Vyas found Humber's business classes an ideal way to add yet another skill set to a resume that includes an MBA in finance and a degree in chemistry. Humber's business offerings go well beyond the familiar into specialized areas like
golf management and health-sector marketing. "For some reason, there's
been a steady increase in the number
of people interested in learning how to operate a spa business:' adds spokesperson Belinda Cunha. "It
has a lot to do with more people
discovering the health and stress
management benefits of going to a spa."
A company called Rosetta Stone stands ready to teach you Mohawk in high-tech style-via
Mohawk Immersion Software, released this spring as part of its Endangered Language series. The
company uses a trademarked online learning method called Dynamic
Immersion to teach more than 30 languages (not all of them endangered) to millions of learners in more than 150 countries.
And at the Center for
Discovery in upstate New
York, youngsters and adults who have mild to severe cognitive delays,
physical disabilities, and significant
language and social impairments are learning life skills that help them thrive.
"We're a successful alternative for individuals who might have been housed in traditional asylums or 'state schools' like Willowbrook back in the '70s-places where they often became more disabled because of their institutionalization, explains Richard Humleker,
chief of development. Humleker exudes
personal and professional satisfaction
as he tells the center's success
stories and describes pro-grams and facilities like Thanksgiving Farm, which
produces certified organic produce. "Parents of a lot of the kids we work with were told that their children were incapable of learning," he says. "We've proven them wrong: Pall Delevitt,
executive director of Global Medicine
Education Foundation (GMEF), under-stands
the importance of merging conventional
medicine with holistic practices. An integrated medicine pioneer, Delevitt
started one of the first integrated
medicine programs, at the University of Virginia School of
Medicine in 1991.
“The Center for Discovery offers individuals with significant disabilities, and
their families, innovative educational, clinical, social, and living experiences designed
to enrich their lives through personal accomplishment and increased
Today, she works with
a team of 30 from various healing modalities to help students "establish a way of healing that comes from the heart and soul of the
individual to create a healing life for themselves and
others." GMEF offers students the opportunity to learn alongside
other healers with diverse backgrounds.