Clemente Course in New Bedford

Starting by last week, September 15th 2011, I have something to look up every Monday and Thursday evenings: The Clemente Course in the Humanities – a unique educational institution founded in 1995 to teach the humanities at the college level to people living in economic distress. The aim of the course is to bring the clarity and beauty of the humanities to people who have been deprived of these riches through economic, social, or political forces.

“The Clemente Course is about helping people realize the value of the humanities and arts in their lives — and this is something that leads to lifelong learning and an increased appreciation of culture and the world around us.” (Dr. Jennette Riley, the Literature Professor at UMass Dartmouth)

At the first time when I see the brochure, the one that really grabbed my attention was the word FREE! And reading through the descriptions of the program made me even more excited:

  • It’s a free course about humanities
  • Classes will be held every Monday and Thursday evenings from 6 PM to 8 PM ; really important part since I have to make sure the slotted time is good Ara to taking care Azka.
  • Provide free transportation (taxi) to and from class and in-site childcare (oh, great!)
  • Provide free books
  • Open for all New Bedford (and around) residents +18 years old

Basically all is free-of-charge!

This is the 7th year of Clemente Course in New Bedford and this program is fully funded for low-income residents (but not limited to) by PACE , the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, and the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth. The classes will be held at PACE Head Start Center at 247 Smith Street, in New Bedford’s West End.

Besides all of those free information, it is also stated in the brochure that the Graduates of the Course ( those who complete 110 hours of the course, from Sept 2011 to May 2012 – Fall Class) are eligible for up to 6 college credits from UMass Dartmouth which can be transfered to any university in the country. Wew, even great though I probably won’t need that worth credits, but who knows in the future I want to apply for master (again) or PhD?? Who knows…. :p

The brochure also stated what the students will learn from the course, and these are the aspects of humanities: Moral Philosophy, Literature, Writing, Critical Thinking, Public Speaking, Art History, and American History. All of these are absolutely new from me. And so, I don’t need a second to think to apply for this program since the class is limited up to 25 students.

I then contacted Dr. Mark Santow (the Academic Director of Clement Course in New Bedford and Associate Professor & Chair of History at UMass Dartmouth) through his blog and Fb page , luckily there’s still a room for me to fit in. And so, I became the part of this so-they-say-a-life-changing-program.

Today I just had my third meeting with the class and all I can say is I’m very content with the lecturers given. The students itself mostly -as targeted- are low-income residents (including me, of course); and varies in terms of their jobs; from taxi driver, stay at home mothers, photographer, etc, varies in terms of ages;  20 -65 y.old, and varies in terms of their backgrounds; but one thing for sure that I noticed when the first time we’re given the question “Where are you going?” (meaning what do you want to do in your life); nobody has a certain answer. So our common ‘problem’ is more or less similar: still not sure what are we going to do in our life. Tough question, eh?

Oh well, within three meetings I have done reading (do close reading, contemplating, make summary) about these great works of:

  • Plato (Republic, Book VII, dialogue between Socrates and Glaucon); I had a HARD time reading it!! – Philosophy.
  • Jamaica Kincaid (Girl, 1949); a great piece! Short and witty -Philosophy.
  • William Faulkner (A Rose for Emily, 1930); shockingly brilliant, jumbled timeline/ plot – Literature

And more assignments waiting to be read….!! 🙂 Next week, Public Speaking!

For you who interested to participate in the course, the new class will be starting on Spring 2012, for more queries you can contact: Bruce Morell at PACE (508 999-9920), or Academic Director Mark Santow (508 910 6419; .

I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing- Socrates

So, keep on learning new things, every day from everyone – by books, by conversation, by browsing, by observing, and by experiencing.


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