Category Archives: Uncategorized

New Tech Hobbyist Club off to a Great Start

Our newest club, Tech Hobbyist, is now meeting weekly on Mondays from 2-4 P.M. at the Qualcomm Thinkabit Lab at Virginia Tech’s Northern Virginia Center.

The Tech Hobbyist Club and friends in the lab on December 3, 2018.

The Club Coordinator is Steve Shapiro. Club members are often assisted by interns and our sponsor, Jim Egenrieder. So far they have learned how to use Arduino, how to program in Scratch and how to use the 3D printer. Here’s a sample of their handiwork:

Encore Learning Name Plate made by Tech Hobbyist Club using 3D printer.

Newcomers are welcome. If you’d like to join, please send an email request to with your name and contact information. Information about all of our clubs can be found on the Clubs page of this site.



Dr. Chip Beck: Soldier, Sailor, Artist, Spy

As part of our ongoing Encore Learning Presents series, we were proud to welcome Dr. Chip Beck to Arlington’s Central Library. 

Dr. Chip Beck, before his talk in the audtorium of Arlington’s Central Library.

Dr. Beck is a retired Navy Commander and frogman, former CIA and State Department consultant and NCIS Agent, as well as a U.S. Army combat artist and editorial cartoonist. With more than 45 years working on international affairs and direct involvement in many crises around the globe, Dr. Beck shared his insights and behind-the-scenes tales of some of recent history’s most intriguing events.

His free-wheeling talk delved into his many adventures in Asia, Africa, and Central America, including Cambodia and Cuba, during war and peacetime, as well as many amusing interludes in between. Dr. Beck also shared details about his life as a combat artist, including in Desert Storm and as Artist in Residence at Gettysburg National Cemetery.

View Dr. Beck’s work online.

Encore Learning Presents is jointly sponsored by Encore Learning and Arlington Public Library. Check our online calendar for upcoming presentations. Unless otherwise noted, all presentations are open to the public, no registration required.

Ethnic Lunch Club Packs the House at Little Viet Garden

Always up for a new culinary adventure, our popular Ethnic Lunch Club took up quite a few tables at Little Viet Garden.

Oh, and the food was good, too!

Thank you, Carolyn Francis, for the photos!

If you’d like to join our Ethnic Lunch Club, please send an email request to with your name and contact information. Information about all of our clubs can be found on the Clubs page of this site.


DC Jazz History Walking Tour a Hit

Our members recently enjoyed a two hour walking tour of the highlights of DC’s incredible Jazz history in the Shaw neighborhood. The clubs and theaters on U Street, N.W., dubbed the city’s “Black Broadway,” drew audiences to hear headliners like Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong and D.C.-born Duke Ellington.

Our members in front of the Historic Howard Theater. Photo courtesy Louise Kenny.

Members listen to tour guide Garrett Peck in front of Bohemian Caverns.                Photo courtesy Louise Kenny.

Members in front of DC Jazz Icon, a mural by Kate Dicecco on one wall of the Right Proper Brewing Company. Photo courtesy Louise Kenny.

Some of the crowd went on for more modern day jazz – to listen to our instructor Ken Avis and his band Veronneau.  Thank you to Louise Kenny of our Special Events Committee for coordinating the tour.  View our current list of Special Events and join us soon!


CAC Member Dr. Emma Violand-Sanchez Honored

One of our Community Advisory Council members, Dr. Emma Violand-Sanchez, was recently honored by the Arlington Community Foundation (ACF) with its annual Spirit of the Community Award. ACF held a celebratory luncheon on September 27, and Vice President Tom Adams represented Encore Learning.

Encore Learning Vice President Tom Adams and Dr. Emma Violand-Sanchez at the ACF Spirit of Community Luncheon. Photo courtesy Tom Adams.

Dr. Violand-Sanchez founded the Dream Project in 2010.  This non-profit empowers students whose immigration status creates barriers to education by working with them to access and succeed in college through scholarships, mentoring, family engagement and advocacy.  In the past year, the Dream Project awarded $144,000 in scholarships to “dreamers” residing in Virginia.

Dr. Violand-Sanchez was honored for her dedication to helping low-income students, particularly in the immigrant community, overcome the disadvantages in pursuing their education, notably language barriers, parent engagement and financial need.  Dr. Violand-Sanchez was the first immigrant Latino administrator in the Arlington Public Schools where she started the first bilingual education program, the first bilingual GED program in Virginia and programs for English Language learners.  In 2008, she was elected to the Arlington School Public Schools Board of Education and served for two terms. We are so fortunate to have her serve on our Community Advisory Council.

Our Community Advisory Council Chair, Chris Milliken, along with her husband, member John Millken, were the co-chairs of the ACF event.

From left to right, Chris Milliken, event Co-Chair; Jeanne Broyhill, President, Arlington Community Foundation; Nancy White, Executive Director, Arlington Free Clinic, which was this year’s winner of the Community Impact award; Dr. Irma Becerra, President of Marymount University, who gave the keynote address; Dr. Emma Violand-Sanchez, this year’s winner of the William T. Newman, Jr. Spirit of Community Award; and John Milliken, event Co-Chair.

Arlington Free Clinic was also honored for its 24 years of service to those in our community who need our help in accessing health care.  Thorough volunteers and donors, the Clinic provides comprehensive healthcare mainly low-income earners whose jobs don’t include access to health insurance.  Last year, the Arlington Free Clinic cared for over 1,600 individuals who received close to 10,000 healthcare visits including 800 dental visits.

For more information on Dr. Violand Sanchez’s Dream Project, please visit

More information on the ACF Spirit of Community Awards can be found here:


Ethnic Lunch Club tries Korean at Lighthouse Tofu

In June 2018, our adventurous foodies had lunch at Lighthouse Tofu, a Korean restaurant.  Here are some photos of the food and fun. Thanks to Arlene Kigin for organizing, and to Carolyn Francis for the photos!








If you’d like to join our Ethnic Lunch Club, please send an email request to with your name and contact information.


Introducing Our Newest Club: Tech Hobbyist

Are you interested in awakening your inner tech geek? Perhaps you are interested in learning more about 3D printing, Arduino, Raspberry Pi, robotics, or drones? Or just tinkering with some of the latest electronic devices?

Then join the new Tech Hobbyist Club, open to all Encore Learning members. No tech experience is required.

We will meet at the Virginia Tech Thinkabit Lab in Falls Church. Meetings will be held on Mondays from 2-4 P.M. We will meet one to two times per month, depending on club members’ interest. Our first meeting will be Monday, October 15, 2018.

Steve Shapiro is the club coordinator. If you are interested in joining this group, please send an email to

Meeting Location: Virginia Tech Northern Virginia Center (7054 Haycock Road, Falls Church). The Thinkabit Lab is located on the ground floor of the building. Use the main entrance and use the stairs the go down one level. Then turn right and go to the end of the hall.

Parking is available in the lot adjacent to the building. The building is located very close to the West Falls Church Metro Station. A map of the location is on page 40 of our Fall 2018 Course Catalog and can also be found here,

Encore Learning Presents Author Daniel Stone

Daniel Stone, author of The Food Explorer, spoke on Monday August 27, 2018 to an enthusiastic audience at Arlington’s Central Library.

Author Daniel Stone.

Stone spoke about his book which details the true adventures of David Fairchild, a late-19th-century globetrotter and botanist whose life’s work was to  introduce Americans to more diverse crops such as pomegranates, avocados, mangoes, and more. His efforts transformed the American diet from sustenance to enjoyment.

Daniel Stone is a Washington D.C.-based writer for National Geographic, focusing on environmental science, agriculture, and botany. He is also a former White House correspondent for Newsweek and The Daily Beast, as well as a writer for Time Magazine, The Washington Post, Vice and Literary Hub. He currently teaches environmental policy at Johns Hopkins University.

This event was jointly sponsored by Encore Learning and the Arlington Public Library.

Instructor Profile: Tom Wukitsch

Tom Wukitsch learned computers, mastered several ancient and romance languages, served in the Navy and became a Foreign Service Officer, holding posts in Europe, the Middle East and Washington. But wherever he was, whatever he was doing, Ancient Rome was his passion.

Tom in exposition mode.

His interest had begun early – reading National Geographic as a six-year-old at his grandmother’s in Chicago. At that age, he asks, “Who doesn’t want to be a Roman emperor?” In his retirement, he balances that desire to learn about Roman times with an appetite to share. He has taught one of a variety of Ancient Rome courses each semester since Arlington Learning in Retirement Institute, the predecessor to Encore Learning, began in 2002.

This semester the course is Crusades – Wars Among Christians and Muslims, a 10-session course. His other courses included ancient Rome, medieval Rome, Renaissance Rome, ancient Egypt, Pompeii and Vesuvius, and Carthage and North Africa. He has led members of our Travel Club on private tours to Rome, Florence, Venice and Egypt.

Elucidating in Edfu Temple, Egypt.

Although besotted by the ancient world, Tom had an early introduction to the world of the future: computers. Still in high school, he took a job in California as a gopher for Admiral Grace Hopper, a pioneer in computer programming. He entered Loyola to study early ancient history, focused on math and then, at the University of Chicago, archaeometry, which uses computer design to enhance archaeological discovery. He did “shovel bumming,” as beginning archeological work is described, dating pottery in a tent full of equipment that now is the size of a fountain pen. Then he decided he needed to make money.

Tom took the family path into the Navy, which introduced him to flying and brought him back to his love of ancient Rome. Assigned to Naples as an admiral’s aide, he had plenty of time to explore and volunteered at the archeological museum for a year. He was there when the Navy needed an archeologist to study underwater cities near Naples and assure that the Navy wouldn’t harm them as they shipped in new electronic equipment in newer, heavier vessels.

Daily traveling inevitably leads to cappucino.

His next assignment was the NASA research station at Moffitt Field in California. Although he was too tall to be a real astronaut, he was placed in the astronaut corps which was testing to see if planes that could go higher than the atmosphere and come back to earth without falling apart. Tom thought he was invincible, but his knees and a broken back still tell him he wasn’t.

He worked for a defense contractor briefly, until a friend encouraged him to take the Foreign Service exam. He knew ancient languages, Italian, German and French – thanks to growing up in a multilingual family where everyone was also good in math and music. He passed, and, as a new junior political officer, headed to Damascus, where he could speak Arabic and was back in the archeological world of the Middle East. He learned the Syrian archeological sites, and was glad to show them to many visiting Congressmen.

Tom in Egypt.

In Jerusalem, he became the “outside” Arabist in the West Bank, learning and reporting on the Gaza and various sects in the area. Back at State Department he headed the offices of Middle Eastern and European analysts and married another foreign service officer, Margaret Dean. They, and her son, went to Tel Aviv for three years, where they had another son. Tom spent his time learning about the nearby villages and winning reporting awards. He also had an opportunity to work with a Harvard scholar in Jordan identifying the archeological sites of photo plates made in the 1800s. The family then returned to Washington, where they finally were able to adopt a three-month-old Columbian girl.

Tom and Margaret in Egypt.

Tom spent nine years in Washington in intelligence and research on the Middle East and Europe as a planning advisor on weapons of mass destruction and global warming for the Secretaries of State and Defense. After a back-breaking fall at the Pentagon, he retired. Margaret’s next assignment was Rome, and Tom was in his archeological element once again. He became the unofficial guide for embassy and VIP field trips – first on crutches, then two canes and finally one cane. He studied archeology, worked with Groupo Archeologica, and taught.

His return to Washington coincided with the beginning of ALRI, which became Encore Learning. He taught that first semester and every semester since, appearing each time at the class preview in his trademark shorts and sandals. Tom confesses he never has been a coat-and-tie person, even when he worked at the Pentagon. Once he was called in to brief Secretary of State George Schulz. Though questioned about his dress — khakis, no tie and a cardigan, Tom went in for the briefing and found Schulz tieless at his desk wearing khakis and a moth-eaten cardigan. “George, you’re overdressed,” said Tom. They had a good laugh, and a good briefing.

— Written by member Jody Goulden

— All photos courtesy Tom Wukitsch

The Simple Joy of Conversation: Breakfast Club

We asked Ron Wise, our Breakfast Club Coordinator, to send in some photos and an update. “There’s not much to say – we eat and we talk,” he said. Ron’s right, of course, and it’s the simple pleasures of sharing a meal and lively conversation that keep our members coming back each week. We’ll let the photos do the talking.

Lee Cooper and Lee Austin. Photo by Bill Mugg.

Keith Fairbrother, Dru Dowdy, Chris Nottingham. Photo by Lee Cooper.

Ellen Mugg, Bill Mugg, Barry Ginsberg. Photo by Lee Cooper.

Ron Wise, Keith Fairbrother, Dru Dowdy. Photo by Lee Cooper.

Dru Dowdy, Chris Nottingham, Lee Austin, Steve Shapiro, Bill Mugg, Barry Ginsberg. Photo by Lee Cooper.

The Breakfast Club meets Wednesday mornings at 8:00 A.M. at La Madeleine in Bailey’s Crossroads. If you’d like to join, please email your request to Newcomers, both talkers and listeners, are welcome!

Details can always be found on the Clubs page of our website.