Sharing the Load

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Sharing the Load

by Aileen Harland, Liaison Officer, Wollongong U3A

It’s always a problem. Organizers seeking to put on a variety of courses face a huge strain in finding the human resources to maintain a vibrant, challenging program. Often it can seem that there are never enough people willing and able to carry out the research and deliver the presentations. One answer is to share the load by encouraging speakers from one U3A to travel to other nearby branches and deliver the same or similar presentation more than once.

Wollongong and Northern Illawarra U3As have added a rich component to their overall offerings. Every term, each branch sets out a program of movies in their newsletter. Members watch the movie as a group, then remain afterwards to discuss and critique what has been shown. The overarching aim is to bring together likeminded people who enjoy experiencing a broad selection of classic films.

The Coordinator of both groups, Rick Thompson, has a wealth of knowledge and experience behind him. Originally from the USA where he initially held the position of Research Manager for the American Film Institute Centre for Advanced Film Studies and, then, that of lecturer in the UCLA film school (California), Rick accepted an offer to establish a Cinema Studies Program at La Trobe University in Melbourne, which he conducted from 1980 to 2010. Both U3As are fortunate to have him coordinate the film program – at separate venues, some 25 kilometres apart.

The two groups are coordinated as follows:

  • The films chosen each week for Wollongong are different to those shown at Northern Illawarra.
  • Members of one of those U3As may choose to attend the viewings set up by the other.
  • By wearing their own U3A membership tag, no additional cost is incurred for either of the two groups for this one component.

Sharing a resource in this way does NOT seek to diminish the value of each individual U3A: every branch has its own unique identity and character, forged by those people who gather together from one area and exchange common interests and ideas as to what their U3A should be.

Sharing a resource in this way multiplies rather than diminishes the value of each individual one. For presenters, there is the advantage of maximizing audiences for a given amount of preparation; for U3A members, the advantage of fresh infusions of insight and information; and for organizers – some blessed relief from a Herculean task!