Ah, September. Time for everyone who attempted to escape the humidity for the summer to return to the city. Time for football and crab cakes. Time for Oktoberfests and biergartens. And yes, time for school.
The District has bid farewell to our summer interns and welcomed back the scores of students from all over the world enrolled in the 70 or so colleges within 50 miles of Washington. But it’s not just university pupils hitting the books, as it were. DC ranks as the most educated city in America according to a 2016 Washington Post article, and it appears that many residents are lifelong students in a wide variety subjects.
Outside of the traditional education realm, several organizations and cooperatives around the DMV offer opportunities that cater to our collective desire to keep learning more about everything from dead languages to literature and liquor to macramé – and to have some fun while doing it. Read on to check out just a few of the many ways you can get your learn on this fall.
Global Language Network
The GLN is unique in DC’s educational scene because it’s a nonprofit organization with a mission to “use language as a tool to help fix our world.” Founder Andrew Brown says the organization achieves its mission by “empowering individuals through language education and communication.”
“We basically tapped into the idea that regardless of their background, everyone needs and relies on communication,” Brown says. “So that’s our goal, helping people become better communicators. And the first step in that is speaking the other person’s language.”
GLN offers classes in more than 60 languages at minimal cost, made possible by the fact that teachers and instructors are largely volunteers who “are excited about the language and culture and want to share it,” Brown says. The network also focuses on leadership-building skills for those volunteer instructors.
While you can take common language classes like French, Spanish and Italian through GLN, the organization is the only one in the country that teaches Burmese, and this fall will be the only to teach Balochi. So, even if you’re not looking to try your tongue at Nepali, enrolling in any of GLN’s classes helps to keep diverse languages, and in turn their cultures, alive.
Find out more here: www.thegln.org.
IVY: The Social University
IVY is geared toward 25 to 45-year-olds who are seeking both networking opportunities outside of work and educational stimulation beyond their time in school – so basically the average Washingtonian. Gaining membership in IVY isn’t as exclusive as the Ivy League, but you can’t just walk in, either. Each prospective member is interviewed prior to joining to ensure they are committed to supporting the ideas and goals of fellow members with a passion for lifelong communal growing and learning.
“We host events, talks and excursions focusing on politics, business, arts and culture, and seminars in personal growth,” says media director Tyler Marcus. IVY has chapters around the country, so the experience is somewhat different in each city. In DC for example, 20-person dinners with thought leaders in various fields are balanced by river tubing in Harper’s Ferry and volunteer projects with groups like Upwardly Global, which helps immigrants and refugees on their career paths. Marcus is excited about a members-only private dance performance by the Washington Ballet happening this month.
“Our goal is to create opportunities for members to socialize and meet new people, but to do so while learning something that they didn’t know before,” he says.
Find out more here: www.ivy.com.
Founded by Chris Maier and the rest of the crew who bring the monthly Little Salon events to various locations around DC, Little Academy – “for DC’s curious class” – is a series of one-off workshops that take place in bars and encourage participants to flex their mind muscles while maybe also trying to impress a date.
Taught by local subject area experts and enthusiasts, the classes are one night each, last for two hours and cost $20 to attend. This summer’s Little Academy curriculum included such course titles as “Kissed by a Rose: The Gender Politics of the Bachelor,” “Charting Our City: Mapping the Secrets of Hidden DC” and “American Lyrics, American Spirits: Poets and the Drinks that Fueled Them.”
If these strike your mind’s fancy, keep an eye on the Little Academy website for information about upcoming fall classes.
Find out more here: www.littleacademydc.com.
Launched in 2011, Knowledge Commons is one of DC’s first communal learning organizations. KCDC started as an art project out of Anacostia’s Honfleur Gallery, and has since grown into DC’s “neighborhood experiment in teaching and learning.”
The goal of KCDC is to “form community through common interests and skills,” and over the past six years, it has offered more than 700 classes for free. Most classes are single one to three-hour sessions, but more long-form courses are on the table as well. The organization encourages volunteers who want to teach to submit proposals for “classes so wacky that no formal institution would ever offer them, except maybe Oberlin.”
What does that look like? Well, some past and current titles might give you an idea: The Economics of Space Exploration; Future Funk Ready: DCPL Music Resources for Funk and Beyond; Exploratory Jogging: Chasing Waterfalls; It’s Alive! Brewing and Bottling Your Own Kombucha; and Explain Yourself! A Critical Look at Our Identities through Social Media Posting, just to name a few.
Find out more here: www.knowledgecommonsdc.org.
The Lemon Collective
The all-around classy and cool ladies of The Lemon Collective, formerly The Lemon Bowl, have cultivated a community and physical space that is part shared workspace, part DIY skill-building and part creative entrepreneurship experiment. Cofounder Linny Giffin, a fiber artist and interior decorator, says when scheduling classes at the Collective, she and the rest of the team “try to keep it open so that our lineup appeals to who we are.”
“We’re 30-something women whose interests are all over the place – in a good way,” Giffin says.
The Collective hosts workshops that vary from craft to business classes, like marketing, podcasting, journalism and astrology.
“We try to invite people who are experts in their field to come and teach,” she adds.
Giffin is excited about a current renovation of the space, allowing the group to “fit more people and reach out to new teachers to keep making it exciting and fresh.” Keep an eye out for the crystal-healing workshop coming up this fall.
Find out more here: www.wearethelemoncollective.com.