From hip-hop to card reading–courses teach unique skills

Here’s a riddle: What courses currently offered on campus involve the Ace of Pentacles, the “V” position, Missy Elliot and Wycleff and a needle and thread? No clue? Here’s a hint: the courses are free. The College Union Board (CUB) has reintroduced the “mini courses,” the commitment-free, interesting and diverse courses created and taught by students.

You might recall or even have attended one of last fall’s mini courses, which included gymnastics, crocheting and candy-making. Because of the good turnout for last year’s mini courses, CUB instated four new courses on campus and is already planning more courses for the spring semester.

“CUB’s motivation for starting the mini courses was to be able to offer students the ability to learn a little bit about something that they may have little or no knowledge about,” Christie Heyer, CUB event coordinator said.

On Oct. 5, Pilates and Tarot card reading kicked off the first day of mini courses on campus, followed by sewing and hip-hop dancing later in the week. The classes meet weekly and will continue until the end of November.

“What’s best about the mini courses is that they were made for students and taught by students, as well as informal and accessible,” Christina Hrera, CUB event coordinator, said. She also stressed the talented instructors and the impact they have on the classes.

When a teacher shares the same values and peers as the students, the combination can lead to a productive class. For example, senior marketing major Gina Laplant said a main reason she likes the hip-hop dancing mini course is because of the instructor, Melissa Gnade.

Gnade, a senior psychology major and dancer, was very excited about the 15 students who came out last Wednesday night to jam with her, Missy Elliot and Wycleff. While counting out beats and demonstrating some moves seen on MTV’s “Wade Robson Project,” Gnade led the class through some impressive combinations to the music, “Party to Damascus.”

A dancer since the age of six, Gnade is thrilled about her opportunity to teach and said she was nearly moved to tears with excitement about the impressive turnout for the class.

“I like to see girls feel comfortable about themselves and embrace dancing,” she said. “They can use it where ever they go.”

Gnade’s class meets on Wednesday nights from 6 to 7 p.m. in the Decker lounge.

To increase flexibility, try the pilates classes being offered in the T/W main lounge from 9 to 10 p.m. a few nights a week.

Pilates is a method of exercise and physical movement designed to stretch, strengthen and balance the body. Jennifer Caso, pilates instructor and senior criminology and justice studies major, said the main technique that one must master in order for pilates to work is keeping the abdominal muscles tight for the duration of the workout.

Caso said pilates has helped her drop 25 pounds and skip from a size nine to a size two.

“Nothing else works like pilates does for me,” Caso said. “It is really a short workout; I am leaner than ever before and happier. That is really my reason for instructing the course.”

If physical movement doesn’t interest you, consider the art of Tarot card reading, a spiritual activity that provides the ability to connect people to one another. It’s offered every Tuesday night in the Wolfe Two classroom.

“I would encourage people to take the course so they can open their senses to the world around them,” Will Lewis, sophomore english and education major and Tarot card instructor, said.

According to Lewis, the advantages of being a Tarot reader include being able to gain insight into people’s lives and give them sound advice based on the cards.

“People that do Tarot card reading usually develop a sixth sense about people’s emotions,” Lewis said.

Having learned Tarot reading from his mother, Will has mastered a form of “divination,” or the art of reading the past, present and future using a particular tool, which in Will’s case is a deck of Tarot cards.

A standard Tarot card deck has 78 cards comprised of major arcana and the minor arcana. The major arcana are the 22 cards that highlight the larger ideas, such as the magician, chariot or death. “Death does not mean death,” Will explained. “It merely means a sudden change, and it can be positive or negative.”

CUB is also offering a basic mini course that offers a practical skill to make student’s lives a little easier – sewing, which is being offered Wednesday nights from 9 to 10 p.m. in the Wolfe Two classroom.

Sarah Decker, freshman biology major and sewing instructor, said she thinks that there are practical and artistic advantages in knowing how to sew. “Knowing how to fix a rip in your jeans is a good skill, but sewing is also nice for just having fun and making cool things,” Decker said.

Decker said her class is all about just being crafty. “We all lounge on the floor around a giant box of craft supplies and just hang out while everyone works on something they want to make,” Decker said. “The people who have come to the class are all beginners so far, and so we start out easy.”

The CUB mini courses are diverse and give students the opportunity to escape from their repetitive daily tasks and try something different without making a huge commitment. Many other topics will be future subjects in the spring or even as soon as the Christmas season.

“We are looking forward to offering courses in computer programming for creating computer games, basketball appreciation, learning the Chinese game of Go and a mini course on creating a Christmas ornament,” Heyer said.