MOLLI Offers Members Free Events

March 26, 2014

MISSOULA – The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Montana (MOLLI) invites its members to free lectures April 9 through May 14. Members can bring a friend, but since seating is limited, are asked to RSVP in advance online at or by calling the MOLLI office at 406-243-2905.

The schedule and RSVP dates follow:

  • Wednesday, April 9: “Teenage POW,” John W. MacDonald, 1-2 p.m., Todd Building Room 203. RSVP by Wednesday, April 2.
  • Monday, April 14: “Reflections on the Tiananmen Massacre of June 4, 1989”, Steven Levine, noon-1:30 p.m., Todd Building Rooms 203-204. RSVP by Monday, April 7.
  • Wednesday, May 14: “What’s Happening in the Middle East?,” Mark Johnson,11 a.m.-12:30 p.m., University Center Theater. RSVP by Wednesday, May 7.

The first lecture details MacDonald’s life as a teenage prisoner of war. As a teenager of a missionary family in the Philippines, MacDonald and his family fled to the hills when Japanese Forces invaded their town of Legaspi on Dec. 12, 1941. After seven months, they were captured and transferred to Santo Tomas Internment Camp in Manila, Philippines, for a few weeks, then allowed to live at the mission compound in the city. In July 1944, they were re-interned at Los Baños Internment Camp, 40 miles southeast of Manila. By Christmas, they were on starvation rations and conditions continued to worsen. On Feb. 23, 1945, all 2,200 internees were rescued from behind Japanese lines by a classic raid conducted by Filipino guerrillas, Army Scouts, paratroops and amphibious tractors. After liberation, MacDonald moved to Missoula, where he finished high school and two years at UM before enlisting in the U.S. Air Force for pilot training. During his 20-year U.S. Air Force career, he served in the Korean War, the Cold War and the Vietnam War.

The second lecture discusses the Tiananmen Massacre. In the June 4, 1989, Beijing massacre hundreds of peaceful demonstrators – students and ordinary workers – were killed by Chinese troops ordered to crush what paramount leader Deng Xiaoping called a “counter-revolutionary rebellion.” It actually was a movement for political reform involving millions of citizens throughout China. Discussion of the subject is forbidden in China to this day. The massacre marked a turning point in Chinese history. The authoritarian communist regime strengthened its repression to hold on to power, but the issues that were raised in 1989 remain of utmost importance in contemporary China.

Levine, a retired UM professor, has taught and written about China for more than 40 years. He has taught several MOLLI courses on Asian history and politics. Most recently he has launched a worldwide effort to encourage commemoration of the Tiananmen Massacre through a website: The site has elicited broad support, including from within China itself.

The third lecture addresses the contemporary Middle East and how recent events impact American foreign policy. Much of today’s Middle East is trapped between tyranny and chaos: violence in Iraq, civil war in Syria, disintegration in Lebanon, crackdowns in Egypt and the collapse of Libya. One bright spot is the historic opening between Iran and the United States over Tehran’s nuclear program.  

After a 30-year diplomatic career in the U.S. State Department, Johnson returned home to his native Montana where he founded the World Affairs Council of Montana. He served in Egypt, the Persian Gulf, Iran, Kuwait and was the U.S. Ambassador to Senegal. He has lectured throughout the U.S. and the Middle East. He and his wife, Sally Cummins, have made several recent trips to Egypt, Iran and the Persian Gulf.

For more information, to renew your membership or to become a member call the MOLLI office at 406-243-2905 or email






Contact: Eileen Flannigan, program manager, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UM, 406-243-2905,