Wednesday, August 27, 2014

PUTTING THE FUN BACK IN LEARNING AT U3A

(This post is specially for our blog visitors and SeniorsAloud community members who do not have a Facebook account and do not want to sign up for one.)

Many SeniorsAloud members are also members of University of the Third Age (Malaysia), better known as U3A (M) for short. We have been enjoying the short courses at U3A for several years now, and we look forward to signing up for more courses each new semester. The next semester begins this Saturday, 30 August 2014. Details below.

First, a bit of background about U3A

The University of the Third Age began in France in 1973 at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Toulouse. The model became popular as it made sense to utilize the facilities and staff of the university to conduct the short courses offered by U3A. But the catalyst for the rapid growth of U3A was the phenomenal rise in the ageing population in Europe, the United States and Asia. Today there are U3As all over the world, even in Russia!

The term 'Third Age' refers to the 'golden years' after retirement when older adults are able to enjoy freedom from work to pursue their interests. As the retirement age varies from country to country, the Third Age could begin anywhere from 55 to 65.

The original model has undergone changes to adapt to the changing times. In the UK, many U3As are not linked to universities. They operate like focus groups consisting of members that share common interests. They meet regularly at the home of either a member or the instructor to listen to talks or share on certain topics of interest. The atmosphere is always informal, friendly and supportive.

Most U3As are self-funding and autonomous. Courses are usually of short duration and skills-based. Language courses are also popular. The underlying philosophy of U3As is to make lifelong learning fun and accessible to older adults everywhere. It is about enriching our golden years, and that includes making new friends and enjoying new experiences.

In response to older adults who are unable to attend U3A classes or meetings for one reason or another, there are now online or virtual U3As in several countries. You can find out where they are and what courses they offer at http://www.u3aonline.org.au/.

University of the Third Age, Malaysia


Group photo taken after the certificate presentation ceremony


U3A Malaysia follows closely the original French model. It is associated with University Putra Malaysia through the Institute of Gerontology (IG), Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. It was set up in 2007 as a program under the "Lifelong Learning for Older Malaysians" project started by Prof. Dr. Tengku Aizan Hamid, Director of IG, and jointly supported by the Government of Malaysia and the United Nations Population Fund. In 2010, U3A Kuala Lumpur and Selangor was officially registered with the Registry of Societies (ROS) Malaysia.

Courses

U3A(M) offers an average of 40 short courses per semester, ranging from languages and skills to health and adult development. There are two semesters a year, commencing in March and in September. Courses run for 4-6 weeks. Most classes are of two hours duration and held weekly at IG. A few are held at Hulu Langat Community College, and at Auditorium JPA, Putrajaya. The certificate presentation ceremony is held in December. Those who have completed their courses receive a certificate and enjoy a celebratory lunch with their fellow course-mates.



Fee Structure

While anyone aged 50 and above is welcomed to sign up for courses, U3A encourages those interested to register for membership as they can enjoy more benefits. For new members, there is a one-time registration fee of RM15 (inclusive of RM5 membership card). Annual fee is RM25. Members pay only RM80 for any three courses. Each additional course is RM30. Non-members pay RM50 per course. Do consider signing up for life membership as you pay only RM150 and you can avoid the hassle of renewing your membership every year. Members also get to enjoy outings and various events throughout the year.

This is how the fee structure works:


So, are you eager to embark on a journey of lifelong learning with your fellow Malaysians of all ethnic groups? Then be there on Orientation Day.

If you have an FB account, please visit U3A FB page at https://www.facebook.com/U3AMalaysia for more info and photos of U3A events and activities. For enquiries, you can send an email to u3aklsel@gmail.com or info@seniorsaloud.com.



Tuesday, August 26, 2014

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU VISITED A FISH FARM?

The group ready to go, with hats, umbrellas and shades.
Last Sunday 24 Aug, 2014, a group of SeniorsAloud members and friends paid a visit to a fish farm in Kuala Kubu Bharu. We couldn't have asked for better weather for the outing - clear blue skies and bright sunshine. Perfect for taking photos. It felt great just to be away from the smog and haze of the city.

KKB is about an hour's drive from the city. There were 12 of us in four cars. We were lucky to have Vijiakumar, one of our SeniorsAloud members, as our farm guide. He was with the Fisheries Department for 30 years before he retired and is currently adviser to the company that owns and operates the farm.

Waiting for Vijia's slideshow presentation on fish farming and fish culture. 
The expert sharing his knowledge with the city folks. Did we learn a lot!
The farm covers nine acres and has a total of 14 ponds.
This contraption in the pond helps to oxygenate the water. It functions like the pump in our home aquarium. Fish thrive and breed better in oxygen-rich water.
Feeding time. The farm uses only quality fish pellets produced by their company. Fish that are fed chicken organs and entrails tend to have an unpleasant 'fishy' smell and taste.
Water flows into each pond via a system of pipes. The water comes from the river nearby. It is vital to keep the water constantly aerated and filtered.
Watching the fish coming up to feed. The farm breeds several varieties of tilapia, kelah, patin, kerai and arowana. 
Not all the ponds are filled with water and fish. After the fish are harvested, the pond is drained and limed before the next batch of baby fish is released into the pond. Proper water management ensures the fish remain healthy and disease-free.
Admiring fish like the arowana which are first bred in tanks. When they grow bigger, they are transferred to the prepared ponds.
A close-up look at these arowana. Each orange sag contains nutrients for the baby fish. As the fish grows, it gradually absorbs the sag, and are able to swim more freely.

Fish for lunch. Can't get any fresher than this. The farm workers caught for us two tilapia, one kelah biru and one grass carp, each weighing about 1kg to 1.5kg - big enough for a seafood lunch for 13 people.

All weighed and packed in plastic bags ready for us to take to the restaurant. The farm accepts orders for fresh fish. 
We managed to find a restaurant that would cook the fish for us. Most were closed on Sundays. We were so hungry we started tucking in as soon as the first few dishes were served!
Four different fish dishes, from spicy to gingery, but all steamed. Fresh fish are best enjoyed steamed and garnished with celery, salted veg, ginger or mushroom. 
Restaurant owner Mr Chai packing honeycomb for us to take home to make honey lemon drink.
Group photo for remembrance. We came, we saw and we learned a lot. A most enjoyable Sunday outing!

A big thank you to Vijia for making the visit possible, and so enjoyable. If you would like to order fresh fish from the farm, or make enquiries, please contact Vijia at 019-240 5491. He will make arrangements for you to pick up your order in KL.

If you are looking for a nice restaurant in KKB to have lunch, we recommend Mr Chai's restaurant. If you are lucky, he may offer you complimentary dessert and honeycomb to take away.


If you would like to join SeniorsAloud activities, and receive our monthly e-newsletter, please click HERE to register for membership. Membership is free and open to anyone aged 50 and above.