It was a gray and stormy winter morning, almost exactly a year ago, and organizers of LaGrange College’s 3D Journeys programs were frankly nervous. After months of planning and preparation, the start of “Old Ireland in a New Way” – the second annual lecture and travel series – was minutes away.
But would anybody come?
Given the sodden skies and threatening forecast, chances of even a “wee crowd” seemed slim.
But then a shuttle bus arrived from the Vernon Street parking area, delivering a dozen determined, umbrella-wielding lecture-goers. Minute by minute, the crowd continued to build and by the time Dr. Kevin Shirley took to the podium for his talk on Irish history, nearly every seat in Turner Hall’s Dickson Assembly Room was filled.
“It was a great feeling. We knew we were onto something when more than 100 people turned out in the rain on a Monday morning,” said Judy Boggus, who co-chairs the 3D committee with Ann Beason.
Fred Clause, who attended with his wife, Sheila, summed up the attitude of the audience. “We had been looking forward to the Ireland lectures since the first series on Coastal Georgia ended. We weren’t going to miss it because of the weather.”
The Clauses and other fans of the 3D series now have Jan. 28 circled on their calendars. Rain or shine, that’s opening day for the 2013 3D sessions that aim to “Discover, Discuss and Develop” with lectures on “The Rhythms of Brazil.”
Dr. Neila Holland, a native of Rio de Janeiro and assistant professor of business at LaGrange College, will lead off the series. Her topic, “Brazil: Beyond Carnival and the beaches,” signals her aim, to help the audience “discover” Brazil beyond the few basics they may already know.
“Yes, we have the rain forest and the Amazon, but there is so much more. Brazil is one of the world’s leading emerging economies. It has rich history, rich culture and is one of the most diverse countries in the world.”
The chance to “explore new worlds” is what brought retired nursing instructor Lynn Garrard to the first lecture and kept her coming back.
“I cannot tell you how much I enjoy the lectures,” Garrard said. “I go with such anticipation each time and feel so much more knowledgeable when I leave. It’s such a great opportunity to get exposure to areas we may not know anything about.”
Earline Hill, who was well past traditional college age when she earned two degrees from LaGrange College in the 1990s, said the lectures help open a door to lifelong learning.
“That’s one of the reasons I have gone. If we aren’t continuing to learn, if we are not moving forward, we are moving backward. With the 3D lectures, I can continue to learn,” she said.
Hill has not traveled to the 3D destinations, but feels as if she’s been there.
“I feel like I’ve had the experience of going without packing a suitcase,” she said.
Lecture veterans are quick to praise the hospitality of the college, which offers the lectures free of charge and goes out of its way to ensure a comfortable and hassle-free experience. But it’s the expertise of the lecturers which makes the 3D experience memorable, they said.
“When my wife suggested we attend the lectures, I was apprehensive at first,” said Clause. “Now, I look forward to going and wish they weren’t so far apart. The people who give the lectures are so knowledgeable, it’s absolutely amazing.”
Knowledgeable, but not intimidating, Garrard would add.
“The lectures are fascinating and extremely audience friendly,” she said. “They are definitely not boring and not over the heads of any mature adult.”
LaGrange College President Dan McAlexander has said that “showcasing our distinguished faculty” is among the goals of the lecture series, which also aims to connect more closely with the community.
“Celeste and I have found the 3-D Journeys lecture and travel series deeply rewarding. Watching and listening to our outstanding faculty members in action, making new friends in the community, exploring the world through the lenses of different disciplines—all of this has been invigorating.”
Lecturer Shirley described the 3D series as “a bridge” between college and community, and lecture-goers agree.
“It’s just a wonderful idea,” said Hill. “A lot of people know we have a college and it’s on a hill, but they may not know much more than that. This is a wonderful way to reach out to the community.”
Garrard is urging friends and neighbors to join her for the Brazil lectures.
“I may never travel to South America, but 3D gives me a chance to ‘go’ there and be exposed to it. In some ways that’s even more enticing. Since I know I’ll probably never visit Brazil, this is my chance to be exposed to it. It opens a whole new world.”
The lecture series continues on the fourth Mondays of February, March and April. All sessions are free and open to anyone with an interest in learning. Sessions begin at 10 a.m. in the Dickson Assembly Room of Turner Hall. A Dutch-treat lunch, with Brazilian options, will be available in newly renovated Pitts Dining Hall following the Jan. 28 session.
Parking is in the Vernon Street lots, near the pedestrian bridge, with a tent for shelter and shuttle service to the door.
For information or lecture reservations (suggested), call (706) 880-8244 or email 3DJourneys@lagrange.edu.
A four-year liberal arts and sciences college affiliated with the United Methodist Church, LaGrange College is consistently ranked in the top 10 among Southern colleges by U.S.News & World Report. The college, an award winner in sustainability, is the oldest private institution of higher learning in Georgia.