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French lessons for nonagenarians at U3A

STUDY BUDDIES: Valda Hateley and Russell Green, both 91, are learning French at Horsham U3A. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

STUDY BUDDIES: Valda Hateley and Russell Green, both 91, are learning French at Horsham U3A. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

It is never too late to learn something new.
Though it might seem unlikely two 91-year-olds would be keen to learn French, Horsham’s Russell Green and Natimuk’s Valda Hateley rock up to Horsham’s University of the Third Age for a lesson every Tuesday.
What might seem even more unlikely? The two nonagenarians are born one day apart in 1927 and met for the first time when Valda joined the class this year.
Tutor Anne Bothe said the ‘gorgeous’ 91-year-olds – her oldest students – ‘cracked up’ when they realised they had more than a curious mind in common.
“When Valda joined this year and we noticed they had birth dates one day out in the same year, they both just laughed, the whole class cracked up,” she said.
“They’re incredible, and bright as a button – Valda still drives her car every day from Natimuk, and she’ll make a little cake or slice and bring it along to class.
“It’s just lovely having them here. They have so much history.”
Mr Green, born in Camperdown and raised in Woorndoo, won a scholarship to study at Longerenong, where he was dux twice.
He gained second-class honours at Dookie Agricultural College, worked at Longerenong’s Agricultural Centre and was acting senior agronomist in the Wimmera, working extensively with plant breeders and farmers.
Mrs Hateley, born in Dimboola, attended Dimboola Primary School and completed forms five and six in Horsham.
She went on to complete her Teachers’ Certificate in Ballarat, and has taught in Beulah, Brunswick and Horsham.
Marrying in 1954, Mrs Hateley moved with husband Neil to Natimuk in 1991 and they later bought a home together in Main Street.
Both Mr Green and Mrs Hateley have experience in the French language.
And both were looking to occupy themselves and keep their minds active.
Unknown to each other, they decided to join a weekly class with six other students and engage in French conversation to improve their abilities.
There is probably a statistical or mathematical calculation that makes this scenario not as unlikely as it first appears.
Even so, Ms Bothe said Mr Green’s and Mrs Hateley’s odd circumstance, and their eagerness to continue learning into their 90s, had made an undeniable impact on people around them.
“They contribute so much and have brought a different dimension to the class,” she said.
“Russell reads very well but can struggle a bit more if you ask him to talk about his weekend in French, whereas Valda is very good at that, so they really help balance out the class.
“Some of the students who are at a bit of a higher level will help me to teach the other students, because we’re all at different levels. We all help each other.”
Any person not fully employed can join U3A Horsham, with a wide range of classes on offer.
People can find a registration form at U3A Horsham at the Old Railway Station on Railway Avenue, or at
– Lotte Reiter

The entire May 22, 2019 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

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Posted on May 22 2019

Posted by on May 22 2019. Filed under Community, Education, FEATURED, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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