For Central Oregon travelers and bike tourers, the beckoning scenery, culture and architecture discovered along the famed pathways of Europe’s Danube River might seem even farther away than usual these days — many are wondering how long COVID-19 will force them to keep their passports holstered. A visual trip planner, teeming with stories and inspiration, is an apt alternative for the times.
That’s the focus of “Cycling the Danube in Germany and Austria: No Hills and No Flats,” a virtual travel lecture offered this spring through Central Oregon Community College’s (COCC) Continuing Education programming, taking minds where bodies can’t yet go.
The presentation is part of a new learning series for Continuing Education, titled the Collective Intelligence Afternoons, or just “CIA,” which brings a range of speakers and experts into the virtual campus for personal enrichment and community connection. Also in the lineup: “No Option but North: The Migrant World and the Perilous Path Across the Border” (Feb. 17) and “Anatomy of a Pandemic” (March 3), among others.
“In this series, students will have the opportunity to engage with experts in an interactive environment…to explore new ideas, ask questions and share experiences,” said Krissa Harris, Continuing Education program manager and the coordinator of CIA. “It will provide an opportunity for connection, something we all need right now.”
In fact, those connections are plentiful throughout Continuing Education’s new program schedule (which mailed to residents in early January; or visit cocc.edu/continuinged), where courses are mostly virtual for the time being, but the experiences are fully tangible.
For Cameron Fischer, there are pragmatic benefits, too. “I was just grateful for the opportunity to be able to take the classes and have an eye on my kids at the same time,” she said. “The price is so reasonable, I was willing to take the risk — well worth it to get some adult connection, safely and conveniently, during the pandemic.”
Many new courses abound this winter, including a travel writing workshop (begins Feb. 20) with Josh Savage — one of many published authors on the writing instructor roster. A bourbon appreciation course, led by Rick Molitor, owner of New Basin Distillery in Madras, will warm taste buds on March 7; students pick up a tasting kit in advance. And chef Candy Argondizza is back in the virtual kitchen this season with an all-new series, “Cooking with Confidence,” that covers things like braising and roasting techniques, menu planning and selecting kitchen equipment.
“I’ve taken three types of culinary classes from COCC: in-person lecture style, hands-on and virtual,” said Heidi Franz Tremblay of Sisters. “I have to say, when the courses shifted to virtual due to COVID, I wasn’t sure how I would like taking a class via Zoom. I was pleasantly surprised and found the format quite enjoyable. It’s fun to take a class in the comfort of my own kitchen.”
When student Ellen Fujioka attended a recent Spanish language course, she was the very epitome of remote. The resident of Spokane, Washington, learned about COCC from the Central Oregon Summer Spanish Immersion program, a weeklong language camp offered through Continuing Education that she’d attended two years prior. Now, connecting with classes from another state, Fujioka helps illustrate that while remote learning might have a different look and feel, access is wide open.
“I was delighted to see that COCC was offering this class online and I have taken all three that have been offered so far, and plan on taking the next one as well,” she said. “David (Engel) is a phenomenal Spanish instructor and it’s a joy to be in his class.” Other language courses currently offered include Italian, German and Mandarin.
There’s much to choose from with this season’s lineup, including courses in fitness training, guitar playing, art journaling, retirement planning, poetry writing, project management, even snowshoeing for those eager to get out.
Start making your own learning connections today, and find out how far you can go remotely. Call 541-383-7270 or visit cocc.edu/continuinged to view the complete schedule.