MEXICO – Four free programs will be offered to Western Mountains Senior College members during May and June. Nonmembers may join the day of any presentation. Interested persons from the Rumford and Norway areas are welcome to attend.

“An Introduction to Socrates Clubs” will be held at the Garland Chapel of West Parish Congregational Church, Church Street, Bethel, at 4 p.m. Tuesday, May 24.

Socrates Clubs and Cafes are springing up as people with an interest in becoming independent thinkers, better questioners and listeners meet for sociability and sharing of ideas on an intellectual level. The club’s purpose is to cultivate new habits of dialogue to inspire each person in the group to cultivate and discover his or her unique point of view.

The college offers participants an opportunity become acquainted with the ideas and influence of the world’s great thinkers such as Socrates and Plato, hence the origin of the club.

Professor George Miller of the University of Maine at Farmington, a member of the department of philosophy, will lead the discussion. He has a special interest in the discussion of classic books on philosophy and science and will lead the group in the technique of enlightened discussion. Participants will explore the possibility of forming a Socrates Club in the area.

“Exploring Qi Gong” will be held at the Garland Chapel, West Parish Congregational Church, Bethel, at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 26.

Qi gong is sometimes described as “a way of working with life energy.” It is a traditional Chinese medicine technique believed to be at least 4,000 years old. There are three main branches of qi gong: medical, used for healing; spiritual, for self-awareness; and martial art, for self-protection. Qi gong is generally intended to be harmonious with the natural rhythms of time and season. It may be practiced daily with the aim of health maintenance and disease prevention.

Betsey Foster, M.P.H., will introduce the group to qi gong with a presentation of the video, “Qi Gong – Ancient Chinese Healing for the 21st Century,” originally shown on PBS. A question and answer session will follow. Foster will demonstrate and teach several simple exercises.

“An Introduction to Maine Orchids” will be held at the Bethel Historical Society’s Robinson House, Broad Street, at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 2. There are at least 30 species of orchids in the woods and fields of the area. Mike Hicks, a self-taught native orchid specialist, will share his passion for the delicate flowers and help participants learn to spot them.

Hicks will also conduct a walk through his property in Bethel where he propagates and nurtures several species of orchids. The date and time of this walk will be decided after his program.

“A Walk on the Bethel Pathway” will take place at 10 a.m. Monday, June 20. Jackie Cressy, who holds a master’s degree in environmental studies, will give a talk about plants, native and non-native, along the pathway. She is interested in the use of native plants in landscapes and in the role of invasive species in New England ecology.

She will explain why plants grow where they do, how species propagate themselves and how plants affect one another. Participants will discover what’s growing on the easy walk along the paved surface, where there are benches to sit and observe plant structure closely. Hand lenses will be provided.

Participants will meet at the Davis Park entrance to the pathway on Route 26 and should bring a hat, sunscreen, bug repellent and water.

Preregistration is not required but would be appreciated. Although the programs are a free benefit for members, non-members may join on the day of any presentation. Anyone age 50 or over and their spouse are eligible to join. A college degree is not necessary, just a desire to learn and share ideas. To register or obtain further information, call Jackie Cressy at 824-0508.

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