A Program of Foundation Communities
Mission: Free Minds harnesses the power of the humanities to help motivated adults overcome social and economic limitations and connect with institutions of higher education.
Based on the national model of the Clemente Course in the Humanities, Free Minds is founded on the belief that engaging with the humanities can provide adults with a unique opportunity to cultivate the power, value and pleasure of reflection, and that this experience has the ability to change lives.
Note: Mission and excerpt above taken directly from the https://freemindsaustin.org/ website.
The Free Minds Program of Austin, Texas has been on my list of projects to write about. The vast impact that this program has already had on me, my family and our lives, is difficult for me to write about because I just don’t have the words. And now, after including the above excerpts from the Free Minds website, I’m not sure I will be able to follow that with anything that even begins to encompass what it means to me to have the opportunity to be a part of it. But I’m going to give it my best shot.
Free Minds has reignited the passion in my spirit. I have always been the type of person who keeps a positive outlook on life and its challenges. I view challenges as opportunities for learning and deep personal growth. I have a strong spirit that I owe to my mother and grandmother. They are brave and independent women who have taught me about strength and courage. There is a persistent flame of hope that burns in my heart and soul.
Even though I know and believe deeply in these aspects of myself, life’s challenges somehow have a way of succeeding in beating one down sometimes. It was during one of these time-frames, that I began to attend classes with the Free Minds Program. I had hopes for this journey, but didn’t want to be disappointed, so I decided ahead of time to go in with an open mind, no concrete expectations, only the desire to expand my knowledge, my mind, my heart, my spirit as much as I could, with whatever the program had to offer. The Free Minds Program and staff have, by far, exceeded any expectations I could have built up and hoped for.
We are studying subjects such as Creative Writing, Philosophy, Art History and U.S. History. Needless to say, the subjects themselves are extremely important, but it is in the staff where you will find the magic. Their exquisite belief and passion, their brilliant sense of purpose and commitment to the program, to each other and to the participants is deeply profound. One of the most significant parts of the program, unquestionably, is the opportunity that it brings for communing with a thinking people. We exchange heartfelt conversation, intellectual dialogue, we support, encourage and uplift each other, we have become friends, we care about each other’s struggles and successes, we believe in each other.
Free Minds has challenged me in every way, it has changed my way of learning and thinking for the better, it has renewed a beautiful spirit of self-confidence and self-worth in me, it has brought a joy and freedom to my mind, my heart, my spirit and my soul, which I had begun to wonder if this could exist for me anymore. This is the Free Minds Program of Austin, that I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to be a part of.
We are at the half way mark through the 9 month long program. I’ve enjoyed the first half of the year very, very much and am looking forward to the second half. I’ve already begun to know just how much I’m going to miss the program when we’re done. It has been a huge part of my life, filling big gaps and fueling an extremely tired spirit. What the future holds for me, I don’t know exactly at this moment. But I trust and believe deeply, and my future looks brighter because of it all. I know I will continue on my journey of life-long learning and adventure, but no other classes will ever be the same as the Free Minds Program and people have been. They will forever hold a special place in my heart.