by Véronique Jouhaud
Elderhostel has become a living laboratory for professors and students in the Department of Applied Human Sciences.
"It gives us the chance to see older adult learners in action," explained Professor Lisa Ostiguy. She and two colleagues, her husband, Rob Hopp, and Monique Di Lonardo, coordinated the Concordia program last summer for the first time.
Elderhostel, an international movement created in 1975 by American educator Marty Knowlton, combines low-cost tourism with informal education for people 50 and older. Concordia is one of 23 Elderhostel sites located in Quebec, and has been hosting Elderhostel sessions since 1984.
Last summer, 167 participants paid $430 for a week of room, board, courses and related activities. Four one-week programs were given on the Loyola campus: the popular Jazz, Jazz, Jazz program, which coincides with the Montreal International Jazz Festival, two programs on Montreal and its culture, and a session on TV news.
"It's a really unique group of seniors, all active, all interested in learning new things," Ostiguy said. In the jazz program, for instance, participants studied in the morning and went to the Jazz Festival in the afternoon. The evenings were filled with jam sessions and showings of movies on jazz.
Most of the Elderhostel courses were taught by Concordia professors. Graeme Decarie and Jim Manson taught Montreal history, Iain Cook and Sharon McCully taught the news course, Sebastien Poirier and Ghislaine Gherard taught introductory French, Marvin Hershorne taught politics, Yves Moreau taught Quebec folklore, and Dave Clark taught jazz.
"Everybody who teaches in our program loves Elderhostel," Ostiguy said. "The participants ask good questions. In fact, there is so much discussion, you can't always get through the program!"
Will Ostiguy be an Elderhosteler when she turns 50? "Sure," she said, without hesitation. "It's such a good deal -- a chance to study in a comfortable environment and meet interesting people."