For over 25 years, a community program has been offering a variety of classes to the public at a low fee. These classes allow people to gain skills they may need to find better jobs

For over 25 years, a community program has been offering a variety of classes to the public at a low fee. These classes allow people to gain skills they may need to find better jobs and also learn new crafts.

This program – the Pan African Studies Community Education Program (PASCEP), is based in a little cove on Anderson Hall’s eighth floor. Founded as Pan African Studies Department by Temple graduate Annie D. Hyman, she wanted Temple to be accessible by the community. The program was officially adopted by the university in 1979 and became known as PASCEP.

With over 50 classes being offered, PASCEP generates about 700 – 800 students, according to Muriel Feelings, the director and children’s author. Although PASCEP specifically targets impoverished neighborhoods where people cannot afford high tuition costs, current Temple students are also known to have attended classes on topics such as yoga.

Feelings said that age should not be interference for people who wish to attend the program. “I constantly remind them that the founder came to Temple as an adult. There’s no reason for age to deter people.”

The range of courses offered include “Introduction to Wing Chun Kung Fu,” “Hypnotherapy: Power of the Subconscious Mind” and “African Hairstyling.” General Education Development (GED) classes are also offered in Mathematics, English, Reading and Science. Classes take place weekday evenings and are roughly two hours long.

J. Joanne Yohannes, a registered and certified hypnotherapist who runs a practice in Bala Cynwyd, Pa, will teach the hypnotherapy class. The class will teach students how their subconscious mind operates and how and when it can be used to enhance personal life experiences.

Yvette Smalls, the founder of Positive Hair Designs and director of the independent film “Hair Stories” will teach the African Hairstyling workshop. Students will learn how to create African locks, cornrows, plaits and extensions and how to properly take care of their hair.

“I think PASCEP is beautiful,” Smalls said. “I like what they’re doing for the community, and their dedication to education.”

Smalls had originally taught an African hair-braiding class in Mt. Airy, and was asked by PASCEP to teach for them about eight years ago. Now, whenever she starts the class, a flurry of emotions pass through her. “I feel excited; I get passionate, serious; I feel love and joy,” she said.

Students of PASCEP have gone on to have very successful careers. Some students have even come full-circle and returned to teach classes they’d previously attended.

One of the many students who stand out in Feelings’ mind is a middle-aged woman who entered the program to obtain her GED. She had a very low literacy level, but managed to work her way through the reading, eventually becoming a stronger reader, and gaining admission at Philadelphia Community College. She then studied nursing at Temple, and now wishes to become a social worker.

People who teach classes in the program are all volunteers – people who either are experts in their fields, or teachers elsewhere. Temple’s professors and graduate students also make up some of the volunteers. Low fees of about $30 per course also help pay for the program’s costs, which includes a small scholarship fund. Feelings said, “Our budget is very modest. I’d like to see us get some funding.”

A late registration will be held the first week of classes for courses that are not filled up. Classes begin on February 12, and last until May 10. Check out the PASCEP web site at: www.temple.edu/pascep.

If you are interesting in volunteering to be a GED reading teacher, two openings are available Wednesday evenings from 7p.m. – 9 p.m. Contact PASCEP at 215-204-1993.

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