Course Spotlight: A Taste of Provence


Provence, France

Last fall, students enrolled in A Taste of Provence journeyed across Provence, France—a historic and charming region nestled in southeastern France—alongside professor, author and French native, Dane McDowell.

“I taught the course because of the need to share my love for Provence, its’ incredible beauty and its fascinating history,” Dane said. “Since the dawn of time, Provence has been a melting pot of cultures. It has never stopped to attract artists, writers, philosophers and men and women searching for an authentic way of life, based on the special relationship of man and nature.”

Dane’s love and knowledge of the region was never questioned, as she invited the students to voyage with her. History was taught, movies shown, photographs presented, stories told and experiences shared by the entire class.

“I hope that the students enjoyed the course and perhaps discovered an aspect of Provence that they did not know,” she said. “Maybe they will even decide to take a trip! I hope that they take the time to go to an open-air market in some little remote village and marvel at the bountifulness of farm produce before sipping a glass of wine at the village square.”

The course offered two sessions with six meetings each. The classes quickly filled with members who were eager to return each week to be whisked away to France yet again. Dane utilized a multitude of mediums to convey the context and region to the students including films, paintings, photographs, various texts, maps and historical knowledge.

“As a former teacher and editor of a magazine in France, I feel bound to transmit my passion for art and literature,” Dane said. “To my delight, last year OLLI offered me this opportunity and I will be forever thankful.”

Dane first began teaching for OLLI in the spring of 2016 opening with a French literature course entitled Revisiting French Classics in Translation. Since then, she has come to enjoy the OLLI program and the community of education it provides. She is both a teacher and student within the OLLI program.

“I really enjoyed sharing my experience with the class and learning from them,” she said. “I also love listening to different points of view and engaging in debates. Most of all, I appreciate the open minds and sense of humor.”

We are so grateful for such great instructors that are willing to impart their knowledge to so many OLLI members. Next time you have the opportunity, we invite you to enjoy a mini-vacation with Dane and be transported to a place all your own inside the classroom.