All posts by OLLI at NC State University

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at NC State University provides non-credit short courses, study trips, and special events for adults aged 50+. Topics are wide-ranging in the liberal arts and sciences, and we emphasize learning for the joy of learning. Programs range from one-time lectures to six-week courses, and we provide many opportunities to connect with others who share your interests. Although OLLI is a membership organization, and members receive priority registration, some of our programs are open to nonmembers as well. We invite you to join our community of learners!

Fairies

GV FAiries

 If I believed in fairies, which I don’t, I wouldn’t have looked for them around the trees in my neighbor’s yard.  But that is where I found them early this morning on my walk. It’s before eight a.m. and I am startled by a view that stops me in my tracks: hundreds of sparkles of light around the trees; rays of dancing, frolicking pinpoints that could only be described as fairy lights.

GV Fairies 3

They are tumbling down shafts of water droplets between leaves and branches between and around the trees, cascading onto the ground in discreet balls of brilliance.

Geraldine V Fairies Nov 2018

It could only be fairies as nothing matches the sheer awe and joy the sight gives me. Laughing, I take out my cell phone and snap picture after picture. A gift has been bestowed upon me, touching some fundamental childhood self that always wanted to find a fairy. And now I have, hundreds and hundreds of them displayed before me in living proof that dreams can come true.

Geraldine Velasquez (OLLI Member, OLLI Instructor, OLLI Writers Group)

 

Advertisements

Transcendental Wild Oats

The wolf shall dwell with lamb

And the leopard shall lie down

  With the kid; and the calf and the

     Young lion and the fatling together,

 And a little child shall lead them.

                                 Isaiah 11:6

 Human longing for a “peaceable kingdom” hasn’t ceased since the seventh century,   B. C. when the prophet Isaiah uttered those words. The idea has had particularly strong appeal among certain groups of people, such as, for example, the Quakers, with their history and tradition of pacifism. Edward Hicks (1780 -1849) a Quaker minister and naive artist, painted no fewer than 62 pictures portraying the scene suggested by Isaiah’s vision.

Animals

Another group inspired by visions of a pastoral utopia were the Transcendentalists in 19th century New England. Not content with mere depictions, some of those Transcendentalists actually attempted to found communal agricultural colonies. Brook Farm, founded in West Roxbury, Massachusetts in 1841, is probably the best known. Among that colony’s founding members was Nathaniel Hawthorne, whose novel The Blithedale Romance draws upon the author’s experience of life in the colony.

Brook Farm failed in 1847, but another such experiment, also in Massachusetts, was even shorter-lived. Named Fruitlands, it’s now a museum. It lasted a mere seven months; but during that brief time it housed an 11-year-old girl who was destined to become another famous American writer. That girl was Louisa May Alcott.

Farm

In some of his 62 paintings of “The Peaceable Kingdom,” Edward Hicks deviated slightly from scripture by having the lamb lie down with a lion rather than a wolf. Louisa May Alcott did likewise in her satirical sketch of Fruitlands, written some 30 years after her childhood sojourn there. One of Fruitlands’ two principal founders was Charles Lane, whom Alcott renames “Timon Lion” in her sketch, titled Transcendental Wild Oats. Her model for “Abel Lamb” is her own father, Bronson Alcott, Fruitlands’ other principal founder, whom Louisa May depicts as an ineffectual dreamer, dominated by Lane’s more forceful personality.

Alcott has great fun mocking her father and his bookish, intellectual colleagues who know nothing about farming and who furthermore are unfit for the physical rigors of farm life. In her satire, as in reality, it was the women who provided such practicality as the colony experienced. The following excerpt will serve to illustrate:

“About the same time the grain was ready to house, some call of the Oversoul wafted all the men away. An easterly storm was coming up and the yellow stacks were sure to be ruined. Then Sister Hope gathered her forces. Three little girls, one boy (Timon’s son) and herself, harnessed to clothes-baskets and Russia-linen sheets, were the only teams she could command; but with these poor appliances the indomitable woman got in the grain and saved food for her young, with the instinct and energy of a mother-bird with a brood of hungry nestlings to feed.”

Despite such heroics, the first year’s crop yield was insufficient to see the colony through the winter, and so it disbanded. Charles Lane joined a Shaker colony. Bronson Alcott was devastated. Recalling his pain, Louisa May drops her satirical tone and reflects on how unforgiving conventional society can be.

Lyle Adley-Warrick (OLLI Member, OLLI Writers Group)

 

Dave Milidonis Honored by NC State’s Association of Retired Faculty

Milidonis Award

OLLI’s military history instructor par excellence, Dave Milidonis, was awarded the William C. Friday Award for Distinguished Service in Retirement by the Association of Retired Faculty at their Awards Luncheon on May 15th.  This award was initiated in 2010 by ARF to recognize annually a retiree who exemplifies dedication to higher education, and in the land grant tradition of NC State, who models what it means to be a servant of society.  Retired President of the Consolidated UNC System and NC State alumnus Dr. William C. Friday was the first recipient of the award that is named in his honor.

In the award presentation remarks, Dave was cited for his teaching excellence, for volunteering to teach five OLLI courses each academic year, and for being such a sought-after instructor that his courses routinely fill during the first day of registration!  He was also recognized for his work as founding Director of the National Veterans History Archival Institute, which records the stories of veterans for their families and for posterity, with videoed interviews being submitted to the Library of Congress as well as to the veterans and their loved ones.  In his acceptance remarks, Dave humbly gave those present one of his amazing history lessons in which he talked about the importance of our country’s history being taught and its veterans’ contributions never being forgotten by present and future generations of Americans.

In receiving this year’s award, Dave became the first honoree who is not a retired NCSU faculty member, and joined three previous Friday Award recipients who regularly teach for OLLI—Jim Clark (2012), Clay Stalnaker (2015) and Ben O’Neal (2017).

Dave was joined at the Awards Luncheon by OLLI members and devotees John Cudd, Harriet Grand, Carol Rahmani, Nancy Huber, and Marcia and Ed Thomas.

 

Carol Rahmani – OLLI member, former Advisory Council and Program Committee chair, currently serving on Program Committee.

James W. Clark, Jr.

Weymouth final

Consider this contrast:  Jimmy Clark, age 9, is one of seven children. He works in his family’s country store and service station on U.S.158 in Vaughan, N.C. He also delivers the daily newspaper and helps to harvest tobacco. As time permits, he does his homework and reads Agricultural Extension bulletins — “Insects 101” — about keeping pests out of those tobacco plants. He also collects bugs that are drawn to the store’s lights at night.

tobacco plant

Flash forward to 2018 and the Weymouth Center for the Arts and Humanities in Southern Pines, where five distinguished Tar Heels are inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame. One of them is James W. Clark, Jr., PhD. professor emeritus of English at NC State. OLLI members know him as Jim, a popular OLLI instructor. But they may not know that he’s the only one who’s taught a course every single year since the program began as Encore! So why does this erudite professor prefer OLLI to university teaching? “I don’t have to grade papers,” he quipped during an interview.

The Literary Hall of Fame celebrates and promotes the state’s rich literary heritage by saluting its leading authors and encouraging great literature. Jim has degrees from UNC — with a scholarship as a national 4-H winner for a project in entomology — and from Duke. Today he focuses most of his scholarship on North Carolina’s “cultural geography” and literary history. He’s had a leadership role in those areas as president of the Thomas Wolfe Society and the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association. He still serves as president of the North Caroliniana Society, which supports the North Carolina Collection at Chapel Hill and preserves and celebrates the state’s culture and history.

4H

The leap from what Jim calls “bugs to books” wasn’t as broad as it sounds, he said, “because 4-H has a broad curriculum that stresses reading, writing and figuring as well as speaking and teaching.” His faculty mentor at State was Richard Walser, another member of the NC Literary Hall of Fame. “He was a great teacher and something of a rascal,” Jim said, “beloved and feared for his critical voice and bawdy sense of humor.”

Jim followed Walser in his roles at State and became director of the nation’s first Humanities Extension program, with a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, focusing on North Carolina writers in public TV programs and public school textbooks. He also developed “Talk About Writing” videos about North Carolina writers for classroom use. Proceeds from sales supported outreach to public school teachers. That outreach involved sending faculty members in the humanities — including Jim — to lead seminars around the state on literature and culture. And some faculty conducted summer writing seminars for 4-H youth at the county level. Jim has written a social history of this program, “Clover All Over: North Carolina’s First 4-H Century.”

The Lost Boy

But he may be best known as a champion of two literary figures: Thomas Wolfe and Paul Green. He’s been president of the Thomas Wolfe Society and is still on the editorial board of The Thomas Wolfe Review. Like Walser, he’s devoted many hours to teaching and writing about Wolfe, who had been Walser’s primary focus. Jim discovered Wolfe’s novella, “The Lost Boy,” at Harvard, and the UNC Press published the edition he’d edited in 1992. German and French editions followed.

Jim will teach a course on “The Amazing Genius of Paul Green,” whom he calls a Tar Heel polymath, in OLLI’s next semester. Jim considers him “this state’s most productive and well known playwright.” Green studied and later taught at UNC. Jim said he’s known best for such outdoor dramas as “The Lost Colony,” but won a Pulitzer in 1927 for “In Abraham’s Bosom,” a play about racism and education. A foundation in his name supports playwriting and progressive causes, chiefly racial justice. Jim served as the foundation’s president for a decade.

In addition to other major awards, in 2012 Jim received the William C. Friday Award for Distinguished Service in Retirement. He says Friday “was like God for public education,” and that he worked with Paul Green on progressive issues. The award recognized Jim’s OLLI participation, leading writing workshops at senior living communities, and serving as historian of the state’s 4-H youth development program, based largely at State. Jim’s latest work, a social and political history of his family’s part of Warren County entitled “Finding and Keeping Vaughan: Our Hometown,” was published in November.

Dr Jim Coffee Cup

~ Barbara Haddad Ryan

LISABONA

Lisabona was Lisbon’s name in the sixteenth century. Lisabona came from Olisipo, the name the Romans had given the city more than a thousand years before – Municipium Cives Romanorum Felicitas Julia Olisipo. In the 1500s, amid the fever of the discovery of new maritime routes to countries where the commerce of spices and other riches originated, and driven by the hope of fortunes and fame to be had on those endeavors, the whole world converged into Lisabona. The crowds in the city center had Bretons, Catalans, Normans, Castilians, Genovese, Dutch, Venetian, Africans and, of course, Portuguese. Some came to spy, trying to get the secrets of maritime navigation the Portuguese had developed, others to try their fortune. The chroniclers of those days describe Lisabona as a cosmopolitan city, bustling with people, business and opportunities, the place to be within Europe.

Lisabona

My wife Amy and I just came back from a long vacation in Lisboa, as we Portuguese have been calling Lisbon for centuries. When we walked downtown, for a moment we got the feeling we had traveled back in time to the 1500s. We heard English, French, Italian, Russian, Chinese, and Romanian and hardly any Portuguese. Nowadays these foreigners do not look for fortune or fame; they respond to the slogan Lisbon is the place to be this year. They follow the sun, they come to taste food specialties and wine vintages, to explore beautiful views, historical sites and monuments. They come looking for fun and leave their Pounds, Euros, Yuan, Rubles and Dollars in Portugal. The Portuguese are having a bonanza brought by tourism (more than 20 million people last year), albeit with possible downfalls down the road.

Waterside

Amy and I joined the tourist crowds in Lisbon and throughout Portugal, visited many of the fantastic views and historical monuments, ate in many, many restaurants, mainly fish and seafood, trekked up the mountains, traveled down south to Algarve and basked on the beaches, absorbing the warm sun that crossed the cerulean blue sky, like none on earth. We visited museums and it seems now in Lisbon there is a museum for anything imaginable, some better than others. We visited a millenary church and monastery in Alcobaça with its cloisters, and some obscene golden altars, with beautiful art that centuries of foreign invasions, fires and earthquakes could not obliterate. In Lisbon the aqueduct from 1744 and its distribution water pools were the highlight of one of our days; I was born and raised in Lisbon but had never visited it. We traveled north to Coimbra’s University, one of the oldest in Europe, with its magnificent ancient library, then traveled to Nazaré’s promontory over the ocean, where the tallest wave in the world (78 Ft.) challenges ‘”crazy” surfers every year, and close to home we visited Cabo da Roca one more time, the most western point of continental Europe.

Thus, like all the other tourists, we joyfully, gladly and happily scattered our Dollars from the north to the south of Portugal.

Lisbon from water

Henrique Gomes, OLLI Member, OLLI Writers Group Coordinator

It’s So Nice to Meet You Leona!

OLLI Member Tim Hoyt has found plenty of new interests during retirement and from his involvement with NC State’s lifelong learning program, first Encore and now OLLI. One of those is the Readers Theater Special Interest Group of which Tim is a founding member and coordinator. Here is a piece he has written to represent a conversation that could easily have taken place between two OLLI members……………….

2 women

Maxey:  It’s so nice to meet you, Leona.  I’m glad you’re taking the FDR Class.  I really admire the president and Eleanor.

Leona:  I’m glad to meet you, too, Maxey. The teacher is excellent.  Is this the only class you’re taking?

Maxey: Nope.  I’m taking two others. And I’m also involved in a SIG.

Leona:  Really, Maxey.  A Cig?  I gave that up years ago.

Maxey:  No, not that kind.  I’m talking about an OLLI Special Interest Group.

Leona:  So, what do you do in your…SIG?

Maxey:  We act.

Leona:  You act?  Like how?  Naughty?  Nice?  Up?

Maxey:  Cute, Leona.  No, Nothing like that.  Well sometimes…  But it depends on what script we’re reading.

Leona:  Oh, that kind of actor. Like you put on plays?

Maxey: Sort of.  We do old radio shows.  In December we’re performing Archie Andrews Goes Christmas Shopping.

Leona:  With Archie and Jughead and Betty and Veronica?  They were in the funny papers when we were kids!  I loved those silly characters.

Maxey  Those are the ones!  They drove their parents crazy, just like we did.

Leona:  Isn’t it hard to memorize all those lines?

Maxey:  Nope.   It’s called Readers Theater.  We read our scripts and wow ‘um with our voices.  Like actors did back in the old days of radio.

OLLI Actual Readers Theater

 

Leona:  I miss those days…

Maxey:  So do I.  We call ourselves The Speak Easy Players.  We all liked listening to the radio back when we were kids. None of us ever thought we’d be acting!

Leona:  That sounds like such fun.  What else do you do?

Maxey:  We performed The Thin Man, Case of the Goofy Groom, a few weeks ago.  Remember detectives Nick and Nora Charles?  And their dog, Asta?

Leona:  I do!  My dad loved that show.  So did I.  I can still hear that little dog barking.  And their voices!  So, what else do you do in this SIG?

Maxey:  We like to perform for each other.  We do monologues, and we do short scenes with a partner.  And after rehearsal, we go out to dinner together.

Leona:  Maxey, that sounds wonderful.  Are there any other SIGS?

Maxey:  Sure.  There’s Questions Across the Spectrum where we do discussions around TED talks.  And there are SIGS for writers.  And a SIG for canoeing.  And a…

Leona:   The doors just opened.

Maxey:  Well, thank you, Leona.  That’s a nice metaphor for what we’re talking about.

Leona:  No, Maxey, the doors to the classroom just opened.

Maxey:  Dang.  We better get in there.  Do you want to get a seat up front?

coffee cup

Leona:  Yes.  And will you tell me more about these SIG things over coffee after class?

Maxey:  I would be delighted.

 

 

 

 

Tim Hoyt, OLLI Member, OLLI Writers Group, founding member of Questions Across the Spectrum and Readers Theater SIGs, OLLI Hospitality Committee.

 

 

 

OLLI Instructor Profile – Chuck Korte

 

Chuck Korte

Chuck Korte deserves to be called OLLI’s founding father, even though he was too young to join at the time.

It happened like this. Back in 1989, Chuck — with a Harvard Ph.D. in Social Psychology — was a Professor of Multi-disciplinary Studies at NC State. In doing research on the transition to retirement, he learned that some U.S. universities sponsored programs for learning in retirement, and he determined that NC State would be a good location for this. He got together with Sondra Kirsch, then the interim Associate Vice Chancellor of University Extension, to develop a strategy for exploring the feasibility of new programming oriented to the needs and interests — particularly educational — of older adults.

They held informal discussions with several groups and individuals. NC State’s Association of Retired Faculty and Frank Emory, an experienced extension staff member, played key roles. Advice was also sought from upper-level administrators. That fall Chuck chaired an ad hoc steering committee appointed by Vice Chancellor Art White. Members included active and retired faculty, extension staff, and community leaders. The General Administration of the University of North Carolina approved the establishment at NC State of a center for older adult education and enrichment.

The Center for Creative Retirement at UNC-Asheville awarded NC State a grant for the first Raleigh Seminar, coordinated by Howard Miller. The following spring, Chancellor Brown of UNC-Asheville attended a meeting of NC State’s steering committee to share his experience and support NC State’s efforts. Chancellor Monteith of NC State also attended and offered support.

Encore Logo

A program committee, chaired by NC State faculty members Ray Noggle and later Conrad Glass, was formed to plan the first Encore programs. Sondra Kirsch became the first director, succeeded a year later by Denis Jackson, the McKimmon Center director. NC State Chancellor Bruce Poulton suggested the name The Encore Center for Lifelong Enrichment. Chuck chaired the first Encore Advisory Council in 1990, and the first brochure was produced that fall. A reception for community leaders was held in the McKimmon Center to tell them about Encore and encourage them to spread the word. Volunteer instructors were recruited and registrations started coming in. Today there are more than 1,500 members.

Encore’s name was changed to OLLI in 2014 to reflect its connection to the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Network, some 100 programs supported by the Bernard Osher Foundation. Today Chuck is Ex Officio on the OLLI Advisory Council and a member of the Program Development Committee. He also serves as research coordinator. And in February he [is teaching or taught, depending on when this is posted] “Heaven for OLLI Members: Chautauqua!” about the historic institution in western New York State, a pioneer in adult education.

OlliNCState_logo

So what about Chuck’s personal life? He grew up in Gettysburg, Pa., where his father was the chaplain at Gettysburg College. His first ambition was to be an engineer but he also hoped to teach; he excelled at math and physics in high school. The school sent him to Norway for a year as an American Field Service exchange student.  He majored in Psychology at Miami University in Ohio, and then earned his doctorate at Harvard. He joined the faculty at Vassar, and had a sabbatical at the Free University of Amsterdam as a visiting scholar, doing research in Environmental Social Psychology — the effects of the environment on social behavior.  He helped nine students study behaviors in a crisis, such as the widely publicized murder of Kitty Genovese in Queens while her neighbors did nothing.

St Andrews University

Then Chuck joined the faculty of St. Andrews in Scotland, which Prince William and many other royals attended (and where golf was invented). “It was the best job I ever had,” he said. “I was so pampered, and the students were wonderful. Lectures were minimal, only nine a year because they were on a tutorial system like Oxford’s. I was happy as a lark. But the economy was poor, the weather was bad, and I was far from my family.” That family included his wife, Peggy, who’d been his first date at Miami University’s

“Church Night,” and with whom he now enjoys international travel. So he came home when Penn State gave him a one-year appointment. He was teaching there in 1979 when NC State made him an offer. “It’s a big research university so it was easy to say yes,” he said.

When NC State awarded him a sabbatical, he spent it at the University of Cambridge in England while he was researching Social Gerontology — a perfect fit for his work to help establish OLLI.

 

~ Barbara Haddad Ryan