22 April 2009 Age no barrier to learning with ORT St Petersburg It is nearly 130 years since ORT was founded in St Petersburg, so if anyone should know that age is no barrier to an education it is ORT St Petersburg. This heritage of vocational training and education took centre stage recently at the annual Senior Generation Forum held at the massive Lenexpo exhibition centre under the auspices of the St Petersburg local government. It was the first time that ORT participated in the Forum and happy staff members are hopeful that it will not be the last. There were many interesting things to see and do at the exhibition but some of the biggest crowds were around the ORT stand, said ORT St Petersburg Director Marina Sorokina. I think we will be invited again next year. And so many people enjoyed our workshops that enrolment at our centre increased and we have had to open three new groups. It has been a great success. Exhibition organisers devoted a prime spot for the ORT stand for free in the expectation that many people Jewish and non-Jewish would be drawn to the event by the organisations presence. Our name is well known amongst all people in the city, Ms Sorokina said. We consider it our mission to reach out and help people of all backgrounds and information about us can be seen on the website of the St Petersburg administration. ORT St Petersburg was one of dozens of private and public organisations displaying the services they offer for senior citizens. At its computer laboratory, a team of ORT St Petersburgs experts showed visitors that they need not be daunted by new technology. Many of those coming to the exhibition had had a negative experience of explanations on how to use computers and the Internet from their children, grandchildren or friends, Ms Sorokina said. In a series of one-hour workshops, from which we unfortunately had to turn many people away, we introduced them to the basics, showing them that they had the potential to do much more, more quickly, than they had given themselves credit for. Some of those lucky enough to grab the limited number of workshop places available went on to voice their appreciation of the ORT teachers professional skills in interviews with local television and radio journalists. Ms Sorokina said she was hopeful that the successful presence at the Forum would encourage the organisers of an education exhibition in the city to likewise offer a free place at their event. The organisers of the Senior Generation Forum presented ORT St Petersburg with a special diploma in recognition of its contribution to the exhibition. But the best award for ORT employees were the happy faces of the senior citizens who understood that they could be successful in something that they had previously considered difficult and quickly went on to register for further training with ORT, Ms Sorokina said.