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  September 2015

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Back to School!

Solano Stroll

Hear, Hear: Classroom Improvements

Faculty Profile: Elena Sheygal-Placzek

Lunch Bunch

Faculty Announcements

Member Benefits

Susan Hoffman

Business and Operations Manager
Lisa Hardy

Classroom and Facilities Coordinator
Eric Anthony

Communications Coordinator
Jennifer Monahan

Curriculum Coordinator
Kate Hoshour

Jason Gant
Program Assistant

Cheryl Brewster
Research Program Associate

tel. 510.642.9934

Back to the Classroom
Fall is just around the corner. Although the Bay Area may not get brisk weather or glorious foliage, we have OLLI @ Berkeley! We hope you can join us for a course or a lunchtime lecture.

Berkeley Open House
Tuesday, September 8
10:00 - noon
Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse
2020 Addison St, Berkeley

Lafayette Info Session
Thursday, September 10
3:30 - 5:00
Includes a talk by Eric Sinrod on "Privacy Lost in the High-Tech World"
Lafayette Library and Learning Center
3941 Mount Diablo Boulevard

Fall Courses Start Sept. 28

Fall Speaker Series
All Speaker Series events take place at the Freight and Salvage from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Admission is free for OLLI members and the UC Berkeley community (with Cal ID) or $10 for the general public.

October 7:  Review of the Supreme Court 2015 Decisions with Marshall Krause and Larry Bensky

October 21: Love, Anarchy and Emma Goldman with Candace Falk

Watch for Us at the Solano Stroll
OLLI @Berkeley will be at the Solano Stroll on Sunday, September 13. Stop by to learn about Fall classes, or just to say hello! You can find our booth near the Peet's Coffee on Solano at Colusa.

Hear, Hear: Improvements in OLLI Classrooms
By age 70, nearly two-thirds of Americans have some degree of hearing loss (source) . Keeping our classrooms inclusive for folks with hearing loss is an important part of our program, and we are happy to announce that two of our main classrooms were upgraded this summer with assistive listening technology.

At the Freight and Salvage, OLLI coordinated the installation of a copper loop system like the ones already in place in our 41B and 41C University Hall classrooms. Copper loop systems are designed to transmit signals to the t-coil in most hearing aids. Widely used in Europe, they are becoming increasingly common in the United States and are very popular among hearing aid wearers for their clarity of sound. (More information.)  This installation was underwritten by a gift from longtime OLLI @Berkeley supporter Pat Cross. The Freight and Salvage already provided assistive listening devices, but is happy to offer improved sound quality to hearing aid wearers during classes and music performances.

In 150 University Hall, our other lecture classroom in Berkeley, UC Berkeley's Educational Technology Services equipped the room with Sennheiser devices, which are t-coil compatible but can also be used by individuals who do do not wear hearing aids.

We're glad to start the new school year in a more inclusive space... and we are especially grateful to Pat Cross for helping make it possible!

Faculty Profile: Elena Sheygal-Placzek
by Jennifer Monahan, OLLI Staff

OLLI instructor Elena Shyegal-Placzek
Elena Sheygal-Placzek will be teaching "Russians: Portrait of a Nation" this Fall. Although this will be her first time teaching with OLLI @Berkeley, she has over thirty years' teaching experience in both Russia and the US - including several courses with OLLI at CSU Monterey - and a perspective informed by her training in linguistic anthropology, the intersection of language and culture. At the time of publication, she is in Argentina teaching a series of classes on Russian culture and Chekhov short stories.

Tell us about your background and your teaching experience in Russia.
I was born in Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad) and spent my childhood there. I attended the Volgograd Pedagogical University and got my first postgraduate degree (kandidat) there, then went to Moscow for my second postgraduate degree (doktor), in linguistics and linguistic anthropology. I then worked at the Volgograd Pedagogical University for 30 years teaching linguistics and linguistic anthropology as well as ESL.

After perestroika, there was a short love affair between the US and the USSR, and I got involved with an organization called Bridges for Peace. We set up exchanges, I hosted people in my home, and that was when I became interested in American Culture. My colleagues and I opened a Center for American Studies at the university: we offered courses in American English, and I taught American history and geography as part of the language study program. We had some funding from the US Information Agency, which also helped support the English-Russian Dictionary of U.S. Life and Culture that I authored with a colleague.

At that time, how knowledgeable were your Russian students about American culture, and vice versa?
There were lots of stereotypes and fears  to overcome because Russia had  been closed for so many years. Perestroika opened the eyes and the souls of Russians.
I feel so much pain for the propaganda that is currently being circulated in Russia. I go there  three times a year, and when I do my neighbors always ask "Why are you [Americans] doing this to us?" because their propaganda says all problems come from the US.

What has changed most in Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union? What has changed less than people might think?
If you had asked that question in 2000, you would have gotten a very different answer. Now we seem to be tragically circling back towards the past.
For me, the biggest change was the freedom. It was like a breath of fresh air: I was able to speak about the things I wouldn't dare to mention in public before.
The access to books was wonderful, too. I remember reading Solzhenitsyn by squinting at photographs someone had taken of a clandestine copy of the book; suddenly we had access to books that had previously been banned.

This freedom of speech and freedom of thought was Gorbachev's greatest achievement. A lot of people hated Gorbachev for the havoc that came after him, but glasnost made such a difference.

I was also able to travel for the first time in my life. Prior to that, you could only travel in socialist countries... and for my one trip to Czechoslovakia I had to stand before the Party Committee of the university and answer all sorts of questions. Then in my forties I finally got to explore Europe.

What brought you to the United States?
Sometime in the late 1990s, our university developed an exchange program with Ramapo College of  New Jersey. In 2002-2003, I came there to teach Russian History and short stories.

In 2006, I applied for a grant for postdoctoral research from the American Association of University Women. I got it... but then I had to find a sponsor. I wrote to contacts at several universities, and Robin Lakoff at UC Berkeley was one of the people who said yes. My eight previous visits had all been to the East Coast, so I came to California. My research topic was the discourse of women politicians, and this was during Hillary Clinton's first presidential campaign.

Halfway through the year, I met Tony. After dating internationally for two years, I moved here in 2008 and got married.

What are you most looking forward to in teaching an OLLI class?
When I moved here, finding OLLI - and adult education programs in general - was one of the most wonderful surprises for me. In Russia when you retire you are doomed to become a babushka, sitting in front of your TV. Here people retire and they are thirsty for knowledge. I can't help but admire this. I've taken classes with OLLI in Berkeley, and taught a few courses with OLLI in Monterey. It's a great pleasure to work with students who are there because they are interested - and also a great challenge because OLLI members are highly educated and very inquisitive.

Lunch Bunch
Sumo Roll
2173 Allston Way (at Oxford)
Berkeley CA, 94704

This is a very small place convenient to the OLLI classrooms, where you order at the counter from an array of "sushi burritos", essentially giant hand-rolled sushi rolls. There are a variety of fillings to choose from including vegan and vegetarian options. Everything is made to order, and is fresh and tasty. There are a few tables, and it is as yet undiscovered so it is not too crowded at lunchtime. Prices are moderately high but the rolls are really big and filling. Open throughout the day, so it is convenient for a late lunch or a light early dinner.

Lucille Poskanzer
September 2015

Faculty Announcements
OLLI Instructor Kathryn Roszak will  lead a special workshop for adults and seniors "The Next  Step: Movement to Music" on  Friday 9/25  from  9 to 10 a.m.  in a
beautiful studio (with meditation hall) in downtown Berkeley.  Pre-registration is required. Please contact Kathryn for details:  kdance@sonic.net,   510.233 5550  or  www.dlkdance.com

Member Benefits

Members of OLLI @Berkeley have access to the full range of OLLI programming and receive a Student ID card that is honored for discounts at a variety of campus and community locations. See offer details on OLLI's website and be sure to show your OLLI student ID.  

OLLI members receive a $10 discount on a $50 Senior Citizen annual membership at CAA.

OLLI members can join the UC Botanical Garden as Cal Affiliates and save $15 on a $55 annual membership.

Berkeley Arts and Letters offers OLLI members a student discount on tickets purchased through their website.
Read more
Show your OLLI student card and get 10% off at:

2087 Addison St.

Five Restaurant & Bar
2086 Allston Way

Turkish Kitchen
1986 Shattuck Ave.

Le Petit Cochon
1801C Shattuck Ave.

Phil's Sliders
2024 Shattuck Ave.

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