It's a new year, a time for change, commitment, resolutions.
So buck up and culturally stretch yourself. You don't even have to leave American soil to learn about some of the fascinating customs, distinctive languages and tasty foods that the rest of the world has to offer.
The Kennewick School District's Community Education program has a bundle of classes, starting in January, guaranteed to feed your mind.
Some of the classes the program will be offering in 2011 include the art of Ukrainian Pysanky egg decorating; the ancient art of Tai Chi Chuan used for wellness; and language classes to learn Arabic, Russian, Mandarin Chinese, sign language and Spanish, to name a few.
"The world grows smaller every day with internet access, airline travel and even a variety of ethnic foods available in our neighborhood grocery store," said Terry Andre, the Community Education coordinator for the district. "Diversity enhances us all as it expands our world view and our choices."
Andre added that American society grows more interested in healthy lifestyles that have origins in other cultures, which means there will be plenty of food classes offered too.
Some choices include how to brew a proper cup of tea, baking scrumptious Norwegian pastries and learning about a sensible and delicious Mediterranean diet.
"Decades ago, the Mediterranean diet was the natural way of life for many people around the Mediterranean Basin, especially in Spain, Italy and Greece," she said. "Some have called this the healthiest way of eating in the world."
And even if you feel comfortable in your cultural skin, there are a bounty of fun and fascinating classes that might strike your fancy. There will be travel workshops to such ports of call as Norway, Australia, New Zealand, Turkey.
There also will be classes on creating model railroad scenery, an introduction to fly fishing and the competitive world of Scrabble and other board games.
There even are classes on dog nutrition, personal safety awareness, a songwriter's workshop, understanding Japanese literature, being prepared for long-term care, gardening techniques, buying and selling antiques and collectibles, the art of origami, creating mosaic art and the list goes on.
More than 40 instructors will teach nearly 100 classes. Prices vary from $12 to $160. There's even a free class offered if you're interested in learning the facts about Washington's 529 prepaid tuition program.
You'll find a catalog of the Community Education program's offerings in in a supplement in the Tri-City Herald tentatively scheduled for release Jan. 8.
Information also can be found online at www.ksd.org/communityed. The catalog gives dates, times, venue and cost of classes.
"The new year is a time of resolutions and to expand your mind," Andre said. And, the Community Education program was created to give the Tri-City community access to diverse knowledge, she added.
But most importantly, she said, "Where would you have to go to hear Amharic, Arabic, Bosnian, Burmese, Cambodian, Chinese, Creole, Ethiopic, Farsi, French, Italian, Korean, Loa, Marshallese, Nuer, Persian, Romanian, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian and Vietnamese?
"The Kennewick School District, of course!"