Category Archives: Uncategorized

Most Beautiful Thing – Student Essay on Jobim Course Published

Encore Learning member Marilia Mota Silva wrote an essay about her experience in our course on Antonio Carlos Jobim that was published by Digestivo Cultural, an on-line Brazilian journal devoted to Brazilian cultural affairs.  A translation of her essay by Instructor Richard Juhnke follows:

Wednesday, 11/13/2019 
Most beautiful thing 
by Marilia Mota Silva  

Tom Jobim course at George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia. This is not part of their regular, post-graduate curriculum.  It is part of Encore Learning, “high quality academic” courses, as its webpage informs, aimed at people over 50 who want to devote themselves to the pleasures of study, without aiming for titles and diplomas. 

The menu offered is comprehensive and irresistible: History, Public Policy, Science and Technology, Fine Arts, Philosophy, Literature. It’s only two hours a week, so I signed up for several: one on income tax: you better know where you stand; one on Existentialism: sailing dense seas of reading; one about Shakespeare: the structure and technique in three of his comedies. 

In this traditional and sober context, the course on Tom Jobim seemed to me out of place, like a candid smile in a church service. 

I was curious to know what they would have to say about him, bossa nova, Brazil, and if there would be enough people interested in the course. With less than eight enrolled, the course is canceled. 

On the first day, when signing the attendance list, I was glad to see that thirty slots had been filled, and somewhat surprised that the only Brazilian / Latin name was mine. 

We are halfway through the course. For the past few weeks, I’ve been following Tom, every circumstance of his life, his compositions, his piano, Teresa, his children, friends and partners, João Gilberto, of course, the travels, even the dates and time spent recording certain songs. 

All very interesting and inspiring, but besides that, something unexpected has happened to me when I come home after class. 

I don’t walk down the street, as I usually do: I float just above the ground, light and transformed.  A feeling of pride, of Brazilianness takes me by the hand. 

I had forgotten that we were not always like this, as we are today. Our culture, our identity has other soul(s), like the one that bossa nova translated so well. 

The elegance, the good humor, the delicate sensuality, the romanticism without drama, without fussiness. The poetry. 

“The Girl from Ipanema” is the second-most recorded song in the world, after just the Beatles’ “Yesterday.”  The teacher regrets the translation of the first verse into English. Tom didn’t like it either, of course.

“Olha que coisa mais linda!” [Look what a beautiful thing!] turned into “tall and tan and young” – [alta, bronzeada e jovem]: from poetry to commodity. 

It is understood that it is almost impossible to make an ideal version [of a song in another language], but such a detail helps us to better see the taste, the elegance of lyrics of that time. Not to mention the originality of the rhythm, the refined simplicity of the compositions. 

“Tom translated ‘Águas de Março’ [The Waters of March] using only short words of Anglo-Saxon origin (with three exceptions),” the teacher informs us, andthe attentive class takes note. They also notice his emotion, the trembling in his voice as he reads verses such as: “It’s the promise of life in my heart.” 

Sinatra, at the height of his career, calling Bar Veloso looking for Tom. Sinatra trying to sing like Tom and João Gilberto.  His comment elicited laughter: “I only sang softer than that when I had laryngitis.” 

Saint Jobim.  The atmosphere of the classroom transformed into a cocoon of harmony, of joy.  Bossa nova as a way of being, a philosophy of life. 

Four of the students have bought tickets for Rio. The teacher will go in January.  He will pass in front of Nara Leão’s apartment, he says with sparkling eyes, as if speaking of Delphi or the Holy Grail. 

If I had Danuza’s email I would let her know that in January there will be a man staring at her window with devout eyes.[[1]] May she not be surprised or afraid: he looks at the past, the poetry, the Brazilian way of looking at life, as it once was half a century ago. 

But if it is a fact that history moves like a pendulum, and today we have reached the opposite extreme of that time, the return is inevitable; perhaps it is already happening and we do not yet realize it. 

So be it. 
Marilia Mota Silva
Arlington, VA, 11/13/2019

[1] [Translator’s note: Danuza is the older sister of Nara Leão, the “muse of bossa nova,” and still lives in the apartment facing Copacabana beach where Nara lived as a teenager and which served as the “incubator” for the young people who, together with Tom Jobim and João Gilberto, created the new sound that became bossa nova.]

Brad Bickford on How to Live Happier and Healthier

On Monday, December 9, 2019, the Encore Learning Presents series brought us Brad Bickford’s Live Happier and Healthier in the New Year. Brad’s presentation was interactive, informative, and entertaining. He provided a wealth of information. Several attendees commented that they would change their habits based on the information Brad presented. We’ve posted his slideshow online at the request of audience members.

Special Events Committee Chair Kris McLaughlin introduces Brad Bickford to a full house.
Brad lays out the themes of his talk.
Brad discusses the value of volunteering.

The Encore Learning Presents series is co-sponsored by Arlington Public Library. We hope you can join us at future events.

Save the Date: Spring 2020 Course Preview – February 1


Saturday, February 1, 2020
Doors open at 8:45 a.m.
Program begins at 9:15 a.m.
and ends at 12:30 p.m.

George Mason University Arlington Campus
3351 Fairfax Drive, Arlington, Virginia 22201

Join us! Open to current and prospective members — Bring friends, relatives and neighbors!

  • Encore Learning’s instructors give brief presentations about their academic courses.
  • Members often tell us that the instructors’ presentations at the Course Preview influence their registrations.
  • Get the latest news on our clubs, special events and volunteer possibilities along with a quick bite and hot drink.

Call the Encore Learning office at 703-228-2144 for specific directions or any questions.

Members, please wear your name badges so that we may more easily greet each other. FREE PARKING, NO VALIDATION REQUIRED – the garage gate will be open.

To become a member or to renew membership, we recommend our website, where you can pay securely with your credit card. If you wish to purchase or renew your membership at the course preview, only personal checks can be accepted.

Chuck Rosenberg on Bob Mueller, Russian Interference, and the Rule of Law

On October 21, 2019 Encore Learning and Arlington Public Library welcomed Chuck Rosenberg to Central Library as part of our ongoing Encore Learning Presents series. Co-sponsored by Arlington Public Library, these events are free and open to the public.

Chuck Rosenberg wows the audience with his detailed explanation
of the Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

A former federal prosecutor and senior FBI official, Rosenberg led a fascinating discussion about current events and the rule of law, including his analysis of the Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections, and the implications of Mueller’s work.

Rosenberg explains: ”The rule of law is a construct; it is designed, nurtured, and safeguarded by people and the institutions for which they work. It has long been a key feature – a staple – of our democracy, though we have witnessed precarious moments throughout our history and significant threats to the rule of law. We know that it is fundamental to who we are as a nation, but we similarly know that it is not immutable and that we should never take it for granted.”

Rosenberg currently works as an on-air legal analyst for MSNBC and as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University.

Encore Learning Special Events Committee Chair Kris McLaughlin
discusses program plans with Chuck Rosenberg.
We had to break out the extra chairs for Rosenberg’s talk. The room was packed!
Special Events Committee Member David Tate describes tech support to Chuck Rosenberg.
Kris McLaughlin introduces Chuck Rosenberg.
Rosenberg answers audience questions.

Rosenberg generously answered many, many questions from the audience. Despite the seriousness of the conversation, he managed to leaven the conversation with lots of humor. The audience was rapt.

Kris McLaughlin thanking Chuck Rosenberg at the end of his talk.

We can’t thank Professor Rosenberg enough for sharing his time and expertise with us. If you’d like to play a part in planning events like this, we encourage you to join our Special Events Committee. New volunteers can help with public “Encore Learning Presents” series at local libraries as well as member-only tours, e.g. flyer design, photography, publicity and technical support. If you’re interested or have questions, please email the office at for more information.

We hope to see you soon at an Encore Learning Presents event. Events are always posted on our Facebook page.

Celebrating Women’s Equality Day and the 19th Amendment

August 26, 2019 is Women’s Equality Day, commemorating the 99th anniversary of the adoption of the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote. In celebration, our “Encore Learning Presents” series provided a screening of Iron Jawed Angels, a film about the activists behind the suffrage movement. The event was also sponsored by Arlington Public Library and the League of Women Voters – Arlington.

Executive Director Lora Pollari-Welbes introducing the film.

Kicking off the centennial celebration a bit early, this was the first of 19 different events to be co-sponsored or sponsored by Arlington Public Library between now and December 2020.

Diane Kresh, Director – Arlington Public Library, talking about upcoming events before the film.
Look for future events featuring the W19 logo
on the buttons Diane and Lora are wearing.

The house was packed and the film was fantastic.

Nancy Tate, former Executive Director of the League of Women Voters,
confirms facts from the film and answers questions from the audience.

Special thanks to Kris McLaughlin, Chair of our Special Events Committee, for all of her hard work in bringing this film to the community. We hope you will join us at one of our upcoming Special Events.


September 7, 2019: Fall Course Preview

Encore Learning’s instructors give brief presentations about their academic courses. Members often tell us that the instructors’ presentations at the Course Preview influence their registrations.

Open to current and prospective members. Bring friends, relatives and neighbors!

Doors open at 8:45 a.m.
Program begins at 9:15 a.m. and ends at 12:30 p.m.

4301 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, Virginia 22203
Corner of N. Taylor and Wilson Blvd.

Get the latest news on our clubs, special events and volunteer possibilities along with a quick bite and hot drink.

Join Us! Call the Encore Learning office at 703-228-2144 for specific directions or any questions. Flyer with map to download and share with friends.

Registration begins at 10:00 a.m. sharp on Monday, September 9.

Anyone can attend the course preview but only members may register for courses. To become a member or to renew membership, we recommend our website, where you can pay securely with your credit card. If you wish to purchase or renew your membership at the course preview, only personal checks can be accepted.

Meet Our New Executive Director: Lora Pollari-Welbes

Effective July 8, 2019, Lora Pollari-Welbes is the Executive Director of Encore Learning. “I am very excited about this opportunity to contribute to lifelong learning in the DC area,” Lora said. “I can’t wait to meet all of our members, especially our dedicated volunteers.” Encore Learning President Art Gosling said, “Lora’s nonprofit experience and strong commitment to member satisfaction make her the ideal choice to lead Encore Learning.” 

Lora arrives with extensive nonprofit management experience. She has held leadership positions in nonprofit organizations, consulting firms, and the federal government. For the past ten years Lora has been with the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that administers AmeriCorps, VISTA, RSVP, and Foster Grandparent programs. Prior to her federal government work, Lora was the program officer for the Arlington Community Foundation, where she managed the scholarship and grant programs and a project to increase civic participation of older adults in Arlington.  

Lora’s commitment to community engagement is demonstrated throughout her work history. Her early jobs in her home state of Minnesota included creating a student service program and managing volunteers at Minnesota Public Radio. After moving to Arlington, she engaged in association management and improving nonprofit effectiveness and efficiency. Lora has led numerous successful fundraising, volunteer management, membership, database, and organizational process improvement projects during her career. Lora served on the board of the Educational Theatre Company and was an active parent in Arlington Public Schools. She is eager to bring her expertise and passion for civic engagement to Encore Learning.

Lora has a BA in American Studies from the University of Minnesota and an MA in Organizational Management from George Washington University. An Arlingtonian for over 25 years, Lora and her husband Matt live in Lyon Village. Their daughter Kate is a student at Temple University. Lora enjoys cooking, gardening, biking and attending live music performances.

2019 Annual Members’ Meeting

Please join us for this once-a-year event. It provides an opportunity for you to meet and elect Encore Learning’s leadership.   

Monday, May 20, 2019

10:00 A.M. to Noon 

Central Library

1015 N Quincy Street 

Arlington, VA  

Arlington Central Library is located at 1015 N Quincy Street between Washington Boulevard and Fairfax Drive. Parking is free at the library or take Metro to either Ballston or Virginia Square on the Silver and Orange lines.

Our by-laws require a quorum to elect the Board. Only current members may vote. You may vote in person at the meeting or via online ballot. A link to the online ballot will be sent to all current members on May 3, 2019.

 Annual Meeting Agenda

10:00 A.M.       Social period, light refreshments

10:30 A.M.       Business meeting

  • Call to order:  Art Gosling, President
  • Treasurer’s Report:  John Morton, Treasurer
  • Election of Encore Learning Board: Ed Rader, Nominating Committee Chair
  • Encore Learning Organization Update: Art Gosling
  • Marjorie Varner Recognition and Closing:  Art Gosling

12:00 P.M.       Meeting concludes

Hope to see you at the meeting!

Community Advisory Council Profile: Mary Margaret Whipple

Our Community Advisory Council, established in 2006, serves as a sounding board and network of support for Encore Learning’s Board of Directors. The Council, comprised of community leaders and representatives from our affiliates, advises the organization on topics which range from acquisition of classroom and office space, to membership levels and diversity, to recruitment of instructors and additional affiliations. The broad, deep and diverse experience they bring to the discussion is invaluable.

We continue our series on current Council members with this interview of Mary Margaret Whipple, Regional Director for Community & Member Outreach for the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association. Mary Margaret has served on Encore Learning’s Community Advisory Council since its inception.

Photo by Tom Whipple.

Mary Margaret, we share an alma mater. Tell me about your formal education and early post-graduate years.

I met my husband Tom at Rice University. After our marriage in Texas in June 1960, we first lived in Arlington in 1960-61 as students. I earned my B.A. at American University and my M.A. at George Washington University. Tom and I returned to Arlington in 1964 and have lived here ever since, though we did have a two-year stint in London in the late 60s.

Go Rice Owls! London in the late 60’s sounds exciting. What did you do next?

My very first “real” job was as an editor at what was then the U.S. Office of Education but for more than 30 years I was an appointed and elected official in Arlington. I served on the Arlington School Board from 1976- 1980. Then I was elected in 1982 to the Arlington County Board where I served until 1995. Finally I was elected to the Virginia Senate, serving from 1996 to 2012, ending with four years as the Chairman of the Rules Committee. One notable fact is that, as Chair of the Senate Democratic Caucus, I was the first woman in an official leadership position in the General Assembly – ever. Fortunately there have been more since then!

Absolutely! We are welcoming the wave of women in public office thanks to the groundbreaking efforts of you and your colleagues. You have been busy on several fronts – I frequently see your photo in the Sun Gazette attending local and state-wide functions.

Photo by Tom Whipple.

And I’d like to tell you about a project I have been working on for several years. The General Assembly has authorized the construction of a Monument to the Achievements of Virginia Women on the grounds of the Capitol. Our Commission has chosen a design: a granite plaza with benches, a sundial, and a glass wall with the names of more than 200 women who have been influential in Virginia history, including Evelyn Reid Syphax, Kathryn Stone and Elizabeth Campbell from Arlington. Standing or seated around the Plaza will be a dozen bronze statues of women, some whose stories are not well-known, from all four centuries of Virginia’s existence. The Plaza has been built, several statues are underway, and we will dedicate the Monument this year, on October 14, 2019. This project is mostly privately-funded so we are still raising money for the last four statues. For more information, the website is

Thank you for your work on this project. I’m sure there are members interested in supporting this cause. Can you find time to do anything besides work?

Truthfully, for all those years when I was an elected official, I mostly attended Arlington events evenings and weekends – and enjoyed doing it! For vacations, we unwind at a cottage on a lake, taking hikes, reading and enjoying water sports. And I love to knit for my grandchildren.

We are so grateful that you continue to devote time to Encore Learning’s Community Advisory Council. Your unique history of leadership positions in the County enables you to provide us with invaluable insights.

Bob Brink, Mary Margaret Whipple and John Milliken at our
May 2018 Community Advisory Council Event.

As a long-time elected official, I have had an opportunity to know the Arlington community very well and can bring that perspective to the Community Advisory Council.

I suppose you knew about the organization from the beginning?

I don’t remember exactly when I encountered it – I think it was just an idea when I first heard about it. I do know I remember its old name: Arlington Learning in Retirement Institute or ALRI. I love the mission of Encore Learning: to offer high-quality, low-cost, accessible classes and experiences to older adults. This is a well-educated community that always wants to learn more and Encore Learning is a big part of filling that need.

John Sprott and Mary Margaret Whipple at Encore Learning’s 10th Anniversary in 2013.

With Tom now teaching at Encore Learning, let me guess which of our academic categories you will choose when you start taking courses…

One of the things I like about Encore Learning is that you don’t have to take a course of studies or follow a prescribed curriculum, but have the opportunity to delve into many different areas of interest.

Spoken like a true politician.

— Marjorie Varner

April 15 to 19 – Office closed

Courses, clubs and events continue as scheduled. Our office is closed during the Arlington Public Schools’ spring break, April 15 to 19. Staff will return on Monday, April 22.