BVM Joan (Ramone Mary) Lingen teaches a virtual class on rediscovered landmarks of ancient peoples through the Roberta Kuhn Center.
What’s essential might be invisible to the eye, as The Little Prince tells us, but sometimes you can see it on Zoom.
Karen Kane-Herber, director of the Roberta Kuhn Center (RKC) in Dubuque, Iowa, sees the necessity of offering classes during COVID-19 every time people sign in. She watches faces light up when they see each other on the screen.
RKC at Mount Carmel offers enrichment classes in art, crafts, history, and much more for women and men 55 years of age and over.
Weeks of planning and practice went into switching the classes from in-person to on Zoom. It paid off; one email says, “Great job on the technology. Nobody felt left out.”
Every day people are getting more comfortable with the technology. We’re together. People need to gather and share.
“It’s going far better than I anticipated,” Karen says. “There’s a community that forms. People are joyful to be together even though it’s on screen and not in a room.”
Some participants said they would only feel comfortable attending if the classes were offered virtually. Some classes didn’t translate to virtual learning, but 10, including yoga and history, did. “One hundred and seventy five folks stayed with us,” Karen says.
Rose Ann Derks set up an easel on top of two footstools so she could sit in a comfortable chair “in front of windows so that I could also watch the snow coming down during class. Thank you, Karen, for all you do to keep us connected to a former life.”
There are positives: Some new students in New York and California have joined in, and they couldn’t have done that before. People who move to warmer climates in the winter can still take the classes. Classes that were once cancelled for inclement weather can now be held on Zoom. Guest speakers are also an emerging option that can continue even when in-person classes resume.
Karen had support from BVM leadership and the Mount Carmel information technology team to keep classes going. “I am support for the instructors, so they can just teach. That’s my goal. An RKC class should never be stressful. That is contrary to what we are about.”
With the pandemic continuing and winter on its way, it’s even more important than ever to offer the classes as something to anticipate, an outlet, and a positive diversion.
Education is a BVM core value. And “this is education in its purest form,” Karen says.
Learn more about
Roberta Kuhn Center.