Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Life skills workshops teach practicality, self-sufficiency

While shuffling through file cabinets, Program Advisor at the Student Activities Office Colleen McKinney stumbled across a past idea deserving to be resurrected: life skills workshops.

She and Leann Adams, assistant director of the Student Activities Office, hope to give students the opportunity to learn real-life skills they might not otherwise learn until after college.

Credit: Faith Bernstein

“I got excited about the idea pretty quickly, and I hoped that if we picked the right topics, students would be equally excited,” McKinney said.

The Student Activities Office has four workshops planned during the semester: mending and alterations, baking, basic car maintenance and an introduction to personal finances. Though all the details aren’t settled, they are hoping to bring in outside teachers, like the baker from the Patisserie.

“Depending on their backgrounds, [students] might not have been exposed to these things,” she said.

McKinney agreed with her.

“Some [students] are competent in these skills; some are not. But I don’t think they’re a part of the K-12 curriculum,” she said.

“Hopefully these workshops will help students to go out and be independent,” Adams said.

In addition to preparing students for real life, both Adams and McKinney hope that learning life skills will be fun and practical at the same time.

“So far we’ve had good reception from the students,” McKinney said.

“They should be fun. Students will get to think about something different than schoolwork. They’ll use a different part of their brain than they do in the classroom,” Adams added.

The first of these workshops, a lesson on patching and mending, took place last Saturday, Feb. 12. Senior Olivia Jones led the workshop, teaching a group of 15 students her knowledge of repairing jeans.

McKinney contacted Jones after reading one of her “Thrifty Whitties” columns in The Pioneer last fall about simple clothing alterations.

Jones learned how to sew growing up. She took classes as a child and again in high school. She also taught herself a few things.

“I’ve always been interested in crafty things. When I go to a bookstore, I walk to the craft section,” Jones said.

She had several motivations to learn these basic mending and sewing skills.

“My parents are part of the clothing industry, and they didn’t like me wearing anything with holes in it. And in high school, I didn’t want to spend my money on clothes. Jeans are expensive,” she said.

Jones believes that many college students don’t give themselves the time to learn such skills.

“I think people get intimidated by the thought of darning or mending clothes. And it’s easy not to have these skills in college. College kids get away with microwave food and clothing that’s falling apart,” she said.

Students at Saturday’s mending and alterations workshop seemed to be enjoying themselves.

Junior Rachel Hoar was excited to find out that mending jeans isn’t difficult.

“I was worried we were going to have to use sewing machines. I have no idea how to use a sewing machine. But mending jeans was actually pretty simple. And that’s great because a good pair of jeans is hard to find, and I can’t afford going to a seamstress,” she said.

First-year Nilce Alvarez was also pleasantly surprised.

“I am in love with these jeans. I had to save them. And mending them wasn’t complicated at all,” she said.

Hoar liked feeling self-sufficient.

“It’s nice knowing how to do this yourself and not having to rely on someone else,” she said.

Jones feels the same way.

“It feels satisfying to have created something,” she said.

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