Purple flowers blooming on campus.

All Life is Learning - March 2022

Director's Note

Director's Note

For the love of OLLI

Thanks to a collaboration with Western Michigan University’s - Office of Faculty Development, Graduate College, and the Signature Program, OLLI will offer seven specialized courses this summer! Each course will be facilitated by a doctoral level graduate student who was accepted into the newly developed pilot Graduate Teaching Program. These courses were specifically designed for you, our OLLI members! 

Our goal is to create a sustainable program in which graduate students will develop courses at least once a year to teach for OLLI. You will find the courses listed on the OLLI registration page when the summer schedule is posted on the website. Please help make this program a success by registering for some or all of the courses. The topics are diverse and quite interesting

Toni Woolfork-Barnes, Ed.D.
Director, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at WMU


In this Issue:



Here are the courses that will be offered by the doctoral students in the new Graduate Teaching Program and a description of each:

Marriage Proposal Remix: Film Analysis Using Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice – Carrie Hess

“Will you marry me?” “No.” “If I did it differently, would it change your mind?” “No…but others might see us differently.” Through an exploration of both text and film adaptations of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, in this course we will address the question “How do film directors use their tools to help us understand a classic story in different ways?”

The Wild World of Prairies – Ellen Badger Hanson

This course will introduce the prairie ecosystem, covering both key players in prairies and key ecosystem services prairies provide. It will finish with some tips for starting your own mini-prairie in your backyard!

Islamic Mysticism: History of Sufism in Michigan – Tasleem Firdausee

This course will be interactive and present a historical narrative of Sufism, the mystical Islamic belief and practice in which practitioners seek character purification and heart illumination through personal experience. Journey as we explore Sufism in Michigan with its diverse Sufi orders and experience the mystical chanting as a group.

Ergonomically Designed, a Truth or Myth? – Enas Aref

Ergonomically designed is a label seen on many products on the market. Some of us make a buying decision based on that label, believing that “ergonomically designed” means more comfort, more luxury or that a product is in general “better” than similar products on the market.
In this class, we will explore how to “think” and “apply” ergonomics in daily tasks to ensure your safety and comfort.

Comics and Justice: How Graphic Novels Depict Nonviolent Resistance – Krista Turner

Whether you are a lifelong reader of comics, or just a beginner, join us as we talk about how the comics medium—often associated with superhero comic books—can be used to cover a serious subject like nonviolent resistance. In this class we will learn about comics terminology as well as the principles and history of nonviolent resistance to examine how the experiences of historical figures such as Martin Luther King, Jr. are being made relevant for a new generation of readers.

Atoms Yesterday and Today: How A Basic Scientific Concept Keeps Evolving – Asgha Gill

Science helps improve our understanding of natural phenomena. This understanding may change with the availability of new evidence. Consequently, our knowledge about the world and natural phenomena refines over time.

This two-lesson curriculum will utilize atomic structure as a topic to engage participants in how human knowledge about this topic changed over history. Through engagement in the discussion about different atomic models, participants will be able to appreciate the self-correcting nature of science and learn that the scientific knowledge may change but such change leads towards improvement and refinement of existing knowledge. An appreciation of this feature of science will enable the participants to learn that science, though inherently tentative, is durable and trustworthy.

Tending Your Inner Garden: For Writers Inspired by Nature – Samantha Jo Atkins

This course is designed to inspire creative writers of all levels and genres to write and then improve their nature-inspired poetry, fiction, or non-fiction. Students will receive creative writing instruction, which includes a traditional writing workshop, from a professional creative writing professor and published author.

March courses with openings still available:

  •  Five Brief Lives of Napoleon – Tom Vance, Tues. 3/1, 10 a.m. to noon, online via Webex
  •  Getting the Best from Your Digital Camera – David Randell, Wed. 3/2 and 3/9, 9 a.m. to noon, Walden Woods, Classroom
  • Modern Finance - Understanding Cryptocurrency – Joe Kiser, Wed. 3/2 and 3/9, 5 to 6:30 p.m., online via Webex
  • Michigan, My Michigan: The History of Michigan from the Civil War to the Automobile – Lynn Houghton, Thurs. 3/3, 3/10 and 3/17, 10 a.m. to noon, Zhang Legacy Collections Center
  • Local History Resources at Your Public Library – Ryan Gage, Tues. 3/8 and 3/15, 5 to 7 p.m., Friendship Village, Village Clubhouse Classroom
  • Photography Field Trip to the Gilmore Car Museum – David Randell, Thurs. 3/17, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Gilmore Car Museum, 6865 W Hickory Rd, Hickory Corners, 48060
  • Discovering Oakwood Park: Kalamazoo's "Coney Island" – Keith Howard, Thurs. 3/17, 3/24 and 3/31, 1 to 3 p.m., College of Health and Human Services, Room #1093
  • French or Foe - Increasing Cultural Competency – Carol Hodges, Mon. 3/21, 3/28, 4/4 and 4/11, 10 a.m. to noon, College of Health and Human Services, Room #1057
  • Horatio's Drive a Ken Burns Film – John Geisler, Thurs. 3/24, 9 to 11 a.m., College of Health and Human Services, Room #1093

Register on the website or by phone at (269) 387-4157.




The recent OLLI Founders Series received rave reviews and requests for more! With this in mind, the events committee is preparing to launch a new series called Learn Local/Buy Local. As we did with the Founders Series, this new set of events will provide a "behind the scenes" look at favorite local businesses. One business will be featured in each event, and members will be able to sign up for single events or the entire series. There are so many wonderful places in our Kalamazoo area! During our Learn Local/Buy Local events, you will learn how they got started, how they produce their goods, and have a personal introduction to the folks that make it happen. We plan to begin presenting the new series in Fall 2022. The events committee meets once a month and loves to get suggestions as well as new committee members. Please contact the OLLI office (269) 387-4157 to share your event suggestions and to learn more about the committee.



Membership and Marketing

OLLI members win Waitress the Musical tickets

Congratulations to the five fortunate OLLI members who won tickets to Waitress the Musical at Miller Auditorium:

  1. Joyce Cialdella
  2. Maxine Gilling
  3. Judith Moore
  4. Janet Tagett
  5. Mary Ann Wuerthele

OLLI gave these tickets to randomly selected members to show our appreciation for their continued membership in OLLI.

OLLI…In person or remote, it's your choice

This semester is off to a great start, with courses offered both in person and online. Many OLLI members have been attending courses via Webex, but some of you have been waiting until you could walk into a room with other people. The wait is over! If you haven't yet rejoined, now is the time! There's plenty of time to decide what you want to learn, and as the weather warms up, there will be several outdoor offerings as well.




Passionate about literacy?

Want to help others with reading and writing? Become a tutor! If you are available for a minimum of two hours a week, you can make an impact on an adult’s entire life.

The Kalamazoo Literacy Council is a nonprofit volunteer tutor organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of adults with low literacy skills through free classes and one-on-one tutoring designed to develop reading, writing, spelling, and comprehension. Through the council’s efforts we hope to also educate the public about the crisis of low literacy and bring together individuals with the common goal of making Kalamazoo County a fully literate community.

We teach learners in-person or online through our Virtual Learning Center. The free training will equip you with effective strategies for teaching adults or teaching classes.

Winter programs include one-on-one tutoring and online classes in writing, basic computers, Job Opportunities and Basic Skills (JOBS), Citizenship, adult basic education (GED), Parent Literacy, and Health Literacy for native English speakers and English language learners.

We offer plenty of ongoing support through monthly forums, peer sharing, and more. The next free tutor training session begins March 3. Learn more and sign up today!



OLLI members Sharon Wade (left) and Judy Sivak (right) were honored to be invited to a round table discussion of senior issues with Governor Whitmer at the Portage Senior Center. The 15 participants brought up topics such as the cost of medicine (especially insulin), food insecurity, support for family caregivers, the crisis of not enough direct care workers to support older adults and people with disabilities, repealing the pension tax, and increasing awareness and access to available services.


Now You Know!


We all know March is usually known for St. Patrick’s Day. Many see this day as a day to party and have fun, but this holiday was originally observed as a religious holiday by the Irish for over 1,000 years. This holiday commemorates the passing of the patron Saint Patrick who helped to change the religion of Ireland.

National Deaf History Month, is also celebrated in March, from March 13 through April 15. Deaf History Month highlights and celebrates the accomplishments of people who are Deaf or hearing impaired. This nationally celebrated month began when two deaf employees of the MLK Library in Washington D.C. started teaching their colleagues sign language.

To learn more please visit the following websites:

Deaf Articles:


St. Patrick’s:




What is the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute?

The program was initiated under the auspices of the WMU Emeriti Council and WMUx. OLLI offers intellectually lively and culturally appealing learning experiences. We accomplish this by focusing on intellectual stimulation, personal growth, social engagement and enrichment.  Read more


What do we do?

We offer short courses for one to four weeks. Sessions are usually two hours long. Travel programs are also a part of our offerings. There are no tests and no required homework, just exploring lots of interesting topics.

In the near future we will offer courses in different formats -- noon hour discussions, several sessions in one week, and more evening courses. OLLI courses and activities are developed and produced by its members with the support of the staff of WMUx.

We need your ideas for course topics and instructors. Let us know your suggestions. Call the OLLI office at (269) 387-4157 or send an email. The curriculum committee will review all suggestions.