In a quiet moment after a watercolor painting class recently, Donna Leake, 88, says it's all about the fun of learning something new.
In settings such as Jessica Pribula's art class this spring, Donna--who still lives on the home farmstead near Emerado, N.D., where she's lived all her life--rediscovers the pleasures of simple things, like brush and paint.
"OLLI is really important in my life," says Donna with a big smile, adding that she loves learning.
She was a schoolteacher at the Grand Forks Air Force base after getting her education degree from Mayville State University. When she retired, she became an adult literacy educator, working with people who'd never learned to read or write.
"I took a class from Dr. Robert Seabloom (a retired UND biology professor), and he talked about the alkali flats," said Donna, recollecting the times her own dad had taken her out on those flats when he mowed hay. "My dad taught me the names of all the wildflowers and warned me to avoid the anthills."
Speaking of anthills, Donna mentioned that once, during a safari in the famed Serengeti Park in Africa, a hot air balloon she was riding in was blown across a national border -- where, she noted with a grin, she was once again warned about anthills.
"Except they were termites," she laughed. "We got out of that one OK by cranking up the flames and filling up the balloon, after the local military helped us."
Experiences like that one underscored for Donna that one can always be learning. That's what keeps her motivated to continue taking OLLI classes. Jessica Pribula's art course was a family affair for Donna---her son Tom, who retired earlier this year after a career in Facilities Management at UND, ferried his mom to and from classes.