APRIL 2022



We hope you have been enjoying your LLI courses and free lectures this term! Conversations with instructor Carolyn Commer and classmates about Demagoguery and Democracy have been so thought-provoking and timely. The Friday lecturers have knocked it out of the park with their presentations on Jamestown archaeology, West Side Story (an emergency broadcast from a local Panera when the speaker’s internet was interrupted by construction – a volunteer going truly above and beyond), and Florida’s natural treasures. Now that it is April, LLI members will be out and about for field trips. There is space available if you want to attend Dave Roper’s talk on How to Drive Long Trips in an Electric Car on April 4 at 1:30 at Warm Hearth; just come.


If you have enjoyed what you have explored this term, give us a shout-out on our Facebook page or send us a note at lifelonglearning@vt.edu. We love to hear from our members!


The Program Committee has already lined up many new courses and speakers for Fall 2022. Flyers will go out in mid-August and details will be available on the website at that time. We’ll do the online preview about September 1 and open up registration on September 7. Classes will begin the week of September 19 or later. Plan to join us! We warmly welcome new members to our learning community.


Pat Hyer, Program Committee Chair






This month we are excited to feature the LLI "Madame of Mysteries" Britton Gildersleeve as our featured instructor. Although Britton has only lived in the Blacksburg area for a short time, Britton has made an indelible mark on the literature-based programs in LLI with her novel take on mysteries.


Prior to her relocation to the NRV, Britton has called much of the world her home. In her childhood, she viewed herself as a “third culture kid”, an American child growing up abroad in Southeast Asia. After marrying her husband, Glenn, his career extended her international footprint by living in Algeria and Saudi Arabia. However, Britton eventually settled in the United States, earning her Master's and Ph.D. in creative 

writing, spending many years teaching at the University of Tulsa and Oklahoma State University. Britton’s passion for the pen also led her to the role as a science writer for the newspaper Tulsa World.


Upon retirement, she and Glenn began the “new home, new hometown” search. No matter where they were house shopping, people kept telling them about the warmth and beauty of Blacksburg. With some cynicism, Britton made the trip to Blacksburg. It only took a few minutes driving through the old oak-lined neighborhoods to recognize the town’s Southern charm and friendly neighbors. When settling in, she credits Nancy Metz for being her first friend and introducing her to the LLI community. When asked about her pastimes, she noted that she loves spending time with her many friends she’s made in the LLI program and in local book clubs that have popped up from shared interests.


If Britton’s not writing, she’s reading and her favorite author is Dorothy Sayers for her strong historical feminist literary perspective, and groundbreaking role as one of the first women to attend Oxford University. However, it was hard for Britton to think of a mystery she didn’t like. And she is passionate to convert non-mystery readers into sleuth fans too! If you’ve never read mystery books, she notes that the variety of mysteries is limitless. She suggests an online search using your favorite topic of interest as the first keyword and adding mysteries at the end.


Whether you have shelves of mysteries at home or are looking to expand your literary interests, Britton is offering a new mystery course this fall focusing on Seasoned Sleuths: Detection after 60.  We are honored to have Britton and her original literary perspective among our LLI instructors. Thank you, Britton, for your imaginative charisma and continued commitment to the Lifelong Learning Institute!


book shelf

There's still time to sign up for the long-awaited opportunity to gather in community at Warm Hearth Village. Join us on April 8, 5:00 - 8:00 p.m. for light dinner fare and a good time, $20 per person. “Off Our Rockers” will perform.  Register here for this special social event. 




We are excited to welcome Laura Rawlings as the newest team member of the Lifelong Learning Institute. Laura brings to LLI a stellar background of non-profit grant writing, fundraising, and marketing experience. She has worked for organizations such as the Nevada Department of Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts, and locally with Roanoke College, Goodwill, and Legal Aid.


Originally from Southern California, involvement with the senior community is nothing new to Laura. Before her move to the East Coast, Laura served as a tap-dancing instructor at a local Senior Center. She mentioned that she has always gravitated toward being around older adults. Since relocating to Elliston, Laura has been searching for an opportunity to reengage and use her skills to support activities within the Senior community here in the New River Valley. Upon finding this opportunity, she immediately knew it was a perfect fit. We agree!

Her new position in LLI is dynamic at this early stage, but she still intends to hit the ground running. Among her first goals is fundraising and marketing to increase LLI program visibility and membership, as well as further develop revenue streams to support special events and additional members of the operations team (in order to ease the workload of our dedicated 125 volunteers).


She and her husband of thirty-three years, Stewart, are as she terms, “animal nuts”. We prefer to call her an animal’s best friend, because they are pet parents to three rescue dogs and one rescue cat. Growing up she was active in the theater, a singer, dancer, and actress, and learned to play the piano. Most recently, she has begun learning to play the ukulele and hopes to someday perform among the great talents in Floyd, VA. She is also a huge fan of the Moss Art Center, the Lyric, and, of course, the Hokies.


If you have not yet had the pleasure to meet Laura, she will be attending the LLI Food, Fellowship, and Music social at Warm Hearth on April 8th. If you see her, be sure to stop and say hello and welcome her to the LLI community! Welcome, Laura! We are thrilled to have you with us!





Since resuming operations in July 2021, with more than 20,000 participants safely traveling to 35 countries, Road Scholar is excited to continue to offer both in-person programs and their Multi-Day Online Adventures to several of their most popular destinations this spring and summer, bringing the world safely to the comfort of your home.  These multi-day programs will include live lectures, field trips, performances, and interactive discussions with expert faculty. Additionally Road Scholar continues expanding its Virtual Lecture Series to include new offerings from the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute affiliated with the University of Michigan.




Friday, March 4 - Anne McNabb's cooking class was a special experience once again, this semester. This two-week class on Anne's famous Chinese Dim Sum was a big hit with participants. At the "lab session" cooking luncheon, it was all hands on deck in her busy kitchen practicing the skills and techniques learned in the prior week's preparatory workshop. It was a great opportunity to see familiar LLI faces, make new friends, and enjoy some tasty exotic cuisine!   Thanks to Don Creamer for the great pics of this event!



Mosaic for Earth composed by Dwight Bigler is presented by The Virginia Tech School of Performing Arts and Blacksburg Master Chorale - Two hundred and fifty musicians will fill the stage to perform this world premiere, which includes lyrics by leading environmental authors, visual arts projections designed by Virginia Tech’s David Franusich, and stunning illuminations by Barbara Wolff, Psalm 104: You Renew the Face of the Earth.  This new work celebrates the wonders of nature and explores humanity's impact on the environment and responsibility towards it. The concert will feature special guest soloists Danielle Talamantes (Virginia Tech alumna and Metropolitan Opera soprano), Jami Rhodes (mezzo soprano), Isaac Hurtado (tenor), and Christopher Holmes (baritone).  Sunday, April 3 | 7:00 pm. | Moss Arts Center, Blacksburg | Tickets $10 general, $10 senior student | Purchase tickets


Mosaic for Earth - Lost Mountain: A reading by Eric Reece. A powerful voice for the Appalachian Mountains, Erik Reece's Lost Mountain documents the dismantling of Lost Mountain through the mining practice known as mountain top removal. Excerpts from Lost Mountain are featured as lyrics in Dwight Bigler's new composition, Mosaic for Earth.  Monday, April 4 | 4:00 pm | 380 Shanks Hall, Virginia Tech | Free |  Register


Music on Mondays: Kathleen Supove, piano and electronics.  In May 2012, Kathleen Supove received the John Cage award from ASCAP for "the artistry and passion with which she performs, commissions, records, and champions the music of our time."  Kathleen Supove is one of America's most acclaimed and versatile new music pianists, continually redefining the pianist/keyboardist/performance artist in today's world.  Supove presents a solo concert under the moniker THE EXPLODING PIANO.  A striking presence onstage, she has performed with computers, boxing gloves, robots, and laptop orchestra.    Monday, April 4   | 8:00 pm. | Cube, Moss Arts Center, Blacksburg | Tickets $15 general, $12 senior, $10 students | Purchase tickets



Old Time, Blues, and Bluegrass Concert – A benefit concert for our partner, Montgomery Museum: Purchase tickets HERE -- April 5, Moss Center for the Arts


Visiting artist: Igor Lipinsky, piano. Polish-born pianist Igor Lipinski made his U.S. debut with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra on NPR's Performance Today. Graduate of Eastman School of Music and Northwestern University, Lipinski is an Assistant Professor of Piano at the University of Oklahoma where he continues to reimagine the traditional format of a piano recital. Lipinksi's Piano Illusions took him across the world from Hong Kong to New York City presenting his unique show of music and magic at festivals, concert halls, and symphony orchestras including Rochester Philharmonic and Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra. After the halt of his concert tour caused by COVID-19, he turned to recording, started his own record label Vanishing Records, and released his first album "Alchemy" available for streaming on Spotify and Apple Music. Thursday, April 7 |. 8:00 pm. | Squires Recital Salon, Virginia Tech


Radford University History Department Series on WWII. Radford University is hosting additional talks on the long legacy of WWII. You can access the entire series by clicking on the Department of History heading for this listing. On April 11 at 4:00 p.m., the last topic will be the legacies of the Holocaust. The webinars are open to the public. The following link has been established for Zoom attendance: https://radford.zoom.us/j/92209293080


Center Launch and Reading by Poet Warsan Shire. Join others at the launch of the Center for Refugee, Migrant, and Displacement Studies at the Upper Quad (near Major Williams Hall) to support the center's students, faculty, staff, and community friends who are impacted by displacement. A poetry reading by the renowned Somali British poet Warsan Shire followed by a reception. Friday, April 5 | 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm  | Upper Quad, Virginia Tech


Highty Tighties and Campus Band.  Highty Tighties, the Corps of Cadets' regimental band, and the Campus Band perform a free concert. Wednesday, April 20 | 7:30 pm | Anne and Ellen Fife Theater, Virginia Tech


Mosaic for Earth - Personal Sustainability Planning. What are the most impactful and sustainable choices you can make personally? In this two-hour workshop, you'll use a variety of tools to identify what parts of your life have the greatest impact on sustainability, and what you can do to make significant and sustainable improvements. You'll leave with a set of personal sustainability goals, discrete action items for both short - and long-term change, and a plan to follow up and measure how well you've done. Saturday, April 16 | 1: 00 pm - 3:00 pm | Online via Zoom | Free | Register


Light Up the Lake.  Take a stroll along the lake shore as you visit several mesmerizing lights that have been placed in or along the lake. Look for a variety of fish and wildlife drawn to these lights. Identification brochures available at the beginning of the program and a ranger available to answer questions. Stay and watch the April full pink moon rise over the lake. Saturday, April 16 | 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm | Claytor Lake State Park, Dublin | Free


Dailey and Vincent Live in Concert. Grand Old Opry and Grammy Award winners Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent return for an evening of Americana, country classics, bluegrass, and gospel music. Considered among the most reputable bands in American music, their distinctive harmonies and style has led to their top-rated television show "The Dailey & Vincent Show," on RFD TV as well as three appearances at Carnegie Hall. Their shows are frequent sellouts, so purchase early. Friday, April 29. | 7:30 pm. | New River Community College, Dublin | Purchase Tickets


LLI members are invited to submit articles, announcements, photos, or other items that may be of interest to the community.  Submissions must be received by the 15th of the month for consideration in the next month's newsletter.  For more information or to submit an item: Newsletter Editor, Cris Thompson, Ph.D. Student / Graduate Assistant, Virginia Tech Office of Outreach and International Affairs, cristhomp89@vt.edu.  Please limit to 300 words.



Many thanks to our corporate sponsors for their generous support of the Lifelong Learning Institute.