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All Life is Learning – September 2023

Director's Note and In this Issue

Director's Note

Last month, we hosted our third annual Taste of OLLI, and what a fantastic time we had! This was our most successful Taste of OLLI yet. Thank you to all who attended, and to our dedicated volunteers, whose hard work ensured that everything went off without a hitch. During this event, I shared that our OLLI was invited to participate in the Osher National Resource Center (NRC)’s newly established Osher Online program. This will be the second year they are offering the program, and it is for OLLI members only. I am excited because this opportunity allows our OLLI at WMU to continue to have a strong online curriculum.  

With that said, here is how you register for these exclusive Osher Online courses: 

  • Login into the course registration system and sign into your account. 
  • Under the course icon, you will see *Osher Online Courses.* 

  • Click on *Osher Online Courses* and then you can start to register for courses. 
  • Each course offers six sessions for $90, which is only $15 per session.  
  • Once you are registered for the course, all communication about the course will come from the NRC staff.  
  • The NRC staff will conduct two very user-friendly orientation sessions, where they will walk you through their entire process step-by-step. 
  • All Osher Online courses will be held over Zoom. 

Should you have any questions prior to the start of these Osher Online courses or need further assistance, please feel free to contact Shannon via email at or by calling (269) 387-4157.  


Toni Woolfork-Barnes, Ed.D. 

Director, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at WMU 


Announcing a New Look for Evaluation Surveys 

OLLI is transitioning from Survey Monkey to Qualtrics which is the survey and evaluation tool used by WMU. It’s a cost-effective option that offers new bells and whistles to help the evaluation process, but there will be little change to what OLLI members will experience. When you take a class, teach a course, or attend an event or trip, you’ll still receive a link to an evaluation survey via email. The look and layout will be a little different as you’ll notice in the example graphic above. The Assessment and Evaluation Committee values your feedback, which helps us ensure that we’re continuing to provide excellent lifelong learning opportunities for our members, so please don’t forget to share your opinions! 

Still Time to Register 

Fall registration has gone very well, and classes are filling up fast! However, there is still time to register for these OLLI courses happening this month:  

  • A Walk Through Western Michigan University's History 
  • Tai Chi: Session 1 
  • Kalamazoo, A Growing City: The First Half Century as a Municipality 
  • COVID Pandemic and Public Schools 
  • Michigan's Maritime History: From Steamships to Small Craft 
  • Let's Talk About Religion! 
  • Serendipity in Bird Banding 
  • The Benefits of Love for your Health & Wellbeing 
  • Lab Speak: Deciphering the Language of Lab Tests 
  • Viva Vitality 

Visit the OLLI online catalog to locate the dates and times for the courses listed above. 

OLLI Course Liaisons Are Back! 

OLLI is re-launching our Liaisons Committee! These are the folks who lend a helping hand in each class to welcome participants, support instructors, take photos, and make announcements. Being a course liaison is a short-term and fun volunteer opportunity. Basically, you’re helping out in classes you’re already registered for! 

If you’re interested in being a course liaison, please contact Shannon at (269) 387-4157 or by emailing


Art and Archaeology in Ann Arbor! – November 11  

We’re celebrating this upcoming Veteran’s Day with an adventure in Ann Arbor! Our day of educational exploration begins at the University of Michigan’s Museum of Modern Art, home to a comprehensive collection that spans many cultures, eras, and media types, including works by Alexander Calder, Tiffany & Co., Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, and many other noteworthy artists. We’ll walk to the historic Michigan Union Building across the street for lunch, then head to the nearby Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, which houses a collection of more than 100,000 Classical, Egyptian, and Middle Eastern archeological artifacts. There, we’ll also take in a very special event the Kelsey is putting on in celebration of Veteran’s Day called “The Military During Ancient Times,” which will certainly be fascinating! This is a wonderful opportunity for us to visit some of Ann Arbor’s greatest hallmarks. Wear some comfy walking shoes for our docent-led tours as the day is sure to be filled with treasures galore!  

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at WMU teams up with the American Automobile Association to bring you OLLI trips! Registration for trips will be through AAA and not through the OLLI at WMU office. To register, call AAA Nebraska directly. Dial (402) 513-4386 for Chellie or (402) 513-4388 for Dave. The mailing address for AAA Nebraska is 815 N 98th St, Omaha NE 68114. 

Members, $122 Nonmembers $137 | Register by October 11 

Moderate – This type of trip involves moderate walking, and some stairs as may be experienced touring museums and historical buildings. Trips might include walking a mile in addition to touring venues. Multiple boarding/exiting the bus may be required.

Savannah, Georgia, Here We Come—Join Us!  

Thanks to our fabulous Travel Committee, we have plans to expand our travel program in collaboration with Premier Travel. We’ll embark on our first trip next year to spend a week enjoying all that Historic Savannah and Charleston has to offer! To learn more and hear from Tracey Schenk, our Premier Travel agent, we invite you to attend one of two upcoming informational meetings that will be held via Webex on September 12 at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. If you are interested in joining one of these meetings, please email or use this Webex link to join at your preferred meeting time. 

Membership & Marketing

Starting this fall, we are restarting the Bring a Friend program, something we tried last year. From time to time, there are courses that may not be full, so to maximize participation in courses and, most importantly, to share OLLI with non-members, we are inviting OLLI members to bring a friend who is not a member along with them. This is how it will work: 

  • When there is still space in a course, we will list those courses in the monthly newsletter, as well as send an email to those registered for the course to notify them that there is space to Bring a Friend. 
  • You must call the office to have Madison register your guest (for free) in the course. Please make sure to have their full name, phone number, and email address ready. 
  • Once they are registered, they too will get the same emails that you would receive from the OLLI office, instructor, or the class liaison regarding the course for which they will be registered. 
  • We will enter their information into our database so they can stay connected to our OLLI at WMU community by sharing the monthly newsletter and inviting them to OLLI events. 
  • You can Bring a Friend only once during each semester. 

We hope you’ll take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to give the gift of lifelong learning and spread the news about OLLI at the same time. What a great way to spend time with a friend! 

Raffle Winners 

Everyone who renewed or became new OLLI members before August 30 was entered into a raffle for two tickets to a Miller Auditorium performance during the 2023-2024 season. This year’s winners are Marilyn Betts, Gayle Corbin, Mike Hardy, Jim Martin, and Marie Vanbelleghem. Congratulations! 


Taste of OLLI and A Look Ahead 

Thanks to everyone who helped to make last month’s Taste of OLLI such a terrific success! Nearly 200 members, new and old, turned out to hear from our instructors as they offered short, enticing overviews of their upcoming fall courses. We want to extend a special thanks to our guest speaker Mary Jane Mapes and the generous individuals and organizations who donated fabulous door prizes: Miller Auditorium, The Civic Theater, VanderSalm’s Flower Shop & Garden Center, Confections with Convictions, Cherri’s Chocol’art, Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, Boards by BELLLL, WMU Alumni Association, and Ginny Spencer. 

Annual Meeting 

Don’t forget to mark your calendars for our Annual Meeting on Wednesday, November 15, from 1 to 3 p.m. We’re excited to hold this year’s event at a new location: the beautiful Girl Scouts Kalamazoo Regional Center on 601 West Maple Street! 

Working: The Musical 

Farmers Alley Theatre presents Working: The Musical Sept 21 – Oct 8  

Come out to support local live theatre and cheer on our very own OLLI staff member, Shannon Huneryager, who is a part of the cast! This very special performance features both a behind-the-scenes talkback opportunity and discounted tickets for OLLI Members! 

Behind every job, there is a person with a story to tell. This beloved musical celebrates the search for meaning, satisfaction, and the dignity of earning a living. With the addition of original stories by the people who live right here in our community, “Working: The Musical” stitches together a quilt of voices that share what it means to be living and working in Kalamazoo. Combining the Broadway polish of the original musical with the stories of our neighbors, this production is a wholly unique theatrical experience—and a love letter to our community.  

Farmers Alley Theatre has set aside 20 tickets for our OLLI members at a discounted price of $41 per ticket for the 2 p.m. showing on Sunday, October 1. Following the performance, you’ll have a chance to speak with the Director and a few cast members at a special talkback session. Don’t delay—the 20 discounted tickets are available until Sunday, September 17 at 2 p.m. After that time, the discounted price will no longer be available. Of course, if you miss the deadline and there are seats available, you can purchase them at the regular price and still attend with your fellow OLLI members.  

Here is what to do:  

  • Call the box office at (269) 343-2727 to reserve your tickets (do not try to do it online)  
  • Mention you are an OLLI Member to receive your special discount 
  • Purchase your ticket  

See you at Farmer’s Alley Theatre on Sunday, October 1 at 2 p.m.! 

Wellness Moment

It’s Kind of a Big Dill!  

I first published this article in 2019 when Pickleball was overwhelmingly the fastest-growing recreational activity in the U.S. and probably worldwide. Since then, it has grown exponentially! There are legions of retiree-aged individuals joining the Pickleball army. It seems inevitable that at some point we will all be playing it, willingly or not. I have many retiree-aged clients that cannot seem to talk about any other topic, so I have decided to repost this previous submission for our new readers!  

If you haven’t heard, Pickleball is taking over the fitness industry, and the world. When I was an exercise science major at WMU in 1991 I took Pickleball for college credit, and when it was over, I said, “nobody will ever want to play this game.” I was wrong, way wrong! If you don’t know what Pickleball is—I describe it as like playing ping pong while standing on the table. It is played on a court surface with a low net, a hard plastic ball, and oversized ping pong paddles.  Like tennis, there are different skill levels, and generally, you play against players at the same skill level. 

Tyler Norman, Ph.D.
Manager of Corporate Outreach
ACSM Exercise Physiologist
NCFI Corporate Fitness Specialist
West Hills Athletic Club, WMU

With the seismic growth of retired baby boomers entering the recreational world, Pickleball is clearly the most popular option amongst this demographic. Why? My non-empirical research says it’s because it checks all of the wellness boxes, or at least most of them. Social, physical, emotional, and in some cases spiritual health can all be positively affected by playing Pickleball. When I watch our members play, sometimes they have trouble keeping the match going because they are laughing too hard. Plus, it’s easier on the joints than tennis because the court is about half the size and is usually played with a partner!Five or six years ago, West Hills hosted the USAPA Great Lakes Regional Pickle Ball Tournament. To our surprise, we had more than 500 competitors from at least 8 states and 2 countries competing. Within West Hills, we are having a little good-natured turf war between Pickleballers and Tennis players like the Sharks and the Jets. If you would like to see what it looks like, click on one of the links below, but bear in mind that these videos show some of the best players in the country in a competitive setting.  


Pickleball takes center court in USAPA Regiona

What is Pickleball? Learn about one of the Fastest Growing Sports in the USA  

USAPA Great Lakes Regional Tournament Part 1 - Mixed Doubles Day 

If you are interested in Pickleball opportunities at West Hills Athletic Club, visit our website to learn more.

Community Connections

The Kalamazoo Literacy Council is Calling All Volunteers!  

The KLC is seeking individuals who have been tutors to share their stories, which may be used as part of our upcoming 50th anniversary celebration in 2024. We are especially interested in volunteers from the 70's, 80's or 90's, but we'd love to hear from all of you! Please contact Kito at (269) 382-0490 ext. 211 or     

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.