Winter Wonderland

By Jessica Daniel

Horizon Reporter

The winter can be a hard time for students, with little sun and cold weather. However, this area offers great opportunities for outdoor activities during the winter with some special deals for students.

One of the easiest ways to get involved is through Whatcom’s International Friendship club, which offers students’ activities such as ice skating, snowshoeing, and winter river float trips.

“Our trips are a great way to try out something new in a very safe way and at very low cost,” said Ulli Schraml, who is the advisor of the club activities. Schraml says that all activities involved put safety first, and can be adjusted so everyone has fun.

There are plenty of benefits for participating in the activities, Schraml said. “First of all, you get to meet people from all over the world and you will learn about other cultures,” he said.

Schraml said that all the activities are subsidized and very cheap, especially considering that transportation is included. “In short, it’s a great way to make new friends and to learn something as well: from cultural issues to how to snowshoe or kayak,” said Schraml. If interested, there are flyers at the International Programs office in Syre room 201.

If ice skating and snow shoeing aren’t your thing, how about snowboarding? Considered one of the more popular activities to the residents of Whatcom County, Mt. Baker is as close as it gets.

Student and snowboarder, T.J. Butenschoen, 21, has been snowboarding for the last two and a half years. He said he tries to get up to the mountain at least 20 times a year. One of his favorite runs at Mt. Baker is Sticky Wicket. “It’s really steep and fast,” he said. “I do mute and tail grabs, and occasionally a 180.”

Butenschoen said it costs about $65 with gas for a day pass to get up to Mt. Baker. He usually hitchhikes up to the mountain, but has a word of advice, “Hitch hike only if you are armed.”
The ski area is open from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. If gear is what you need, it can be rented at Mt. Baker along with a day pass ranging from $32.90 to $47.50.

If the season’s pass is what you’re looking for, they range from $535 to $730, with Whatcom students getting a discount for a season pass at $650.00.

However, there are College Pass Requirements. To get the discounted seasons pass, you must be currently enrolled for 12 or more credits, with proof that tuition has been paid for by showing a current registrar’s printout with a receipt of full tuition paid for a minimum of 12 credits along with a current I.D. The pass will not be made without this proof.

The Mt. Baker Cascade Adventure’s Baker Bus offers transportation from Kendall, Maple Falls and Glacier service that is scheduled every day of ski area operation. However, Bellingham service is available only on the weekends and holidays. The prices range from $6 to $12 for pick-up.

Students can also rent gear from Western Washington’s University’s Outdoor Center. Although Whatcom students don’t get a discount, Western has all types of gear available for a reasonable price.

Activities for January with the Friendship Club

01/15 Ice skating: about $5

01/30 Snow shoeing at Mt. Baker area: $10

Contact Information: 360-303-3244


2009-10 Mt. Baker ski area events

01/10 Baker Beacon Rally

01/18 Local’s Qualifier

Western Washington University‘s Outdoor Center

Monday through Friday 10am-4:30pm

Located at Viking Union 150 near the Garden St. entrance

(360) 650-3112

Upcoming Western Events:

Wednesday, December 9 to Sunday, December 13

Level 1 Avalanche Certification

When December 9th to December 13th 7 p.m. weekdays, 6 a.m. weekends

Where Outdoor Center

Cost $275 WWU students w/ ID, $290 guests

Saturday, December 12 to Monday, December 21

Wilderness First Responder certification class

When December 12th to December 21st 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where Outdoor Center

Cost $595.00

Saturday, January 9

Snowshoe Day Hike

When January 9th 8 a.m.

Where AS Outdoor Center

Cost $30 WWU students, $40 guests

Thursday, January 14

Ski/Snowboard Tuning Clinic

When January 14th 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Where AS Outdoor Center

Cost $5.00

Snow Clinic

When January 14th 7 p.m.

Where AS Outdoor Center

Cost $8.0

Saturday, January 23

XC-Ski day trip

When January 23rd 8 a.m.

Where AS Outdoor Center

Cost $30 WWU students w/ ID, $35 guests

Sunday, January 24

Backcountry Ski/Board day trips

When January 24th 8 a.m.

Where AS Outdoor Center

Cost $35 WWU students w/ ID, $40 guests

Equipment Rentals for Western

We only accept cash or checks.

Climbing & Mountaineering

Day                             Weekend

Rock Shoes $4.00 $9.00
Crash Pad $4.00 $9.00
Helmet $2.00 $5.50
Mountaineering Boots $8.00 $18.00
Gaitors $1.50 $3.25
Crampons $3.00 $6.75
Ice Ax $3.00 $6.75

Snow Sports

Snowboard Package $14.00 $31.50
Snowboard $10.00 $22.50
Snowboard Boots $8.00 $18.00
XC Ski Package $7.00 $15.75
XCountry Skis $5.50 $12.25
XCountry Boots $4.00 $9.00
XCountry Poles $1.00 $2.25
Telemark Ski Package $15.00 $33.75
Telemark Skis $8.00 $18.00
TelemarkBoots $8.00 $18.00
Telemark Poles $1.00 $2.25
Climbing Skins $3.00 $6.75
Snowshoes $5.00 $11.25
Snowshoe Poles $1.00 $2.25
Avalanche Tranceiver $5.00 $11.25
Avalanche Probe $2.00 $4.50
Snow Shovel $3.00 $6.75
Snow Saw $1.50 $3.25

Weekend rentals may be picked up after 1 pm on Thursday (if available).

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SAL lab to move to Heiner next summer

By Matt Benoit
Horizon Editor
Kathryn Pace
Contributed to this story

SAL Lab (17)The Student Access Lab, or SAL computer lab located in Cascade Hall, will move to Heiner Center in the summer of 2010. The move is the first step in creating a temporary “Learning Commons,” a place where students can go to for tutoring, library resources, and computers, all in one place.



The move from Cascade Hall has stirred both opposition and support from students and staff.
SAL’s move from Cascade to Heiner was scheduled to take place in summer 2009, but more information and further discussion was needed by the planning committee because of the economic climate, said Ray White, vice president of administrative services at Whatcom.


The committee decided to postpone SAL’s move into the first floor of Heiner until summer 2010. Two of Heiner’s 35-seat classrooms will be converted for the SAL, while Cascade will gain a 26-seat classroom and a 45-seat classroom. The move is projected to cost $61,000 and will be paid from Whatcom’s student technology fees.


SAL Lab (13)After opposition to the move was expressed at a student council meeting in mid-October, White gave an overview about the SAL move at the next council meeting. He said that five years of survey information taken from students and faculty concluded that more access to computer labs and more centrally located computer labs were needed at Whatcom.


Some students do not want the learning access computer lab moved away from the close proximity of the tutoring labs. However, council members also reported that some of their constituents say tutoring labs have been overcrowded and not conducive to learning.


Dean Hagin, director of the Learning Center, said moving the SAL could result in the computers they house for students being more occupied.
SAL Lab (6)“This might have both positive aspects and not-so-positive aspects,” said Hagin. On the plus side, students might try to access the computers and wind up discovering all the student support services the center has. However, there will also be fewer computers near the center for students to use while they prepare or await tutoring sessions.
Linda Lambert, library director, said that the library would work with the learning center to cover the research needs of students, adding that there would still be a “first floor librarian presence” that would be limited unless the library budget expands.
Although the  SAL lab, will move to Heiner, the Learning Center and IT department will stay in Cascade. Ward Naf, director of the IT department—which will plan and implement the move—said moving the lab will greatly benefit students.
SAL Lab (1)“The basement of the Heiner building promises to be a better location to efficiently expand the number of computers available for students,” said Naf, adding that the lab’s current location makes expansion not feasible.
Other benefits of the move, said Naf, would be giving students an efficient and accessible way to get checkout materials from the library, as well as providing a start towards establishing the Learning Commons, a two-story, 69,210 square foot building that will be centrally located on Whatcom’s campus.
The building is expected to be completed by 2018 at a cost of nearly $40 million, and will provide eLearning support 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
With the SAL move, Heiner would become the de facto “learning commons,” synergizing library resources, tutoring, learning access labs, computers labs, study areas, computer kiosks, wireless connectivity and student collaborations (study groups) until the official Learning Commons Center is built.
The thinking, said White, is that students working on homework in SAL could seek impromptu help at the tutoring center which is just next door, head upstairs to the library for further research, or prepare to meet a study group.
A small test demonstration of how a learning lab could work in Heiner was set up by introducing comfortable chairs, vending machines, and open work areas with tables instead of desks in the first floor commons area and observing usage.
Anyone who has been to the first floor of Heiner can see that the common area is well used by students and study groups.
Computer logistics also come into play with the move. “SAL sharing technologies like printers and servers, and human resources like monitors and tutors all in one place also makes more dollar sense,” said White.





So what do students think?

Chandler Batiste, the executive vice president for the student council who is also chair of student advocacy, said she polled around 146 students, a majority of whom were in favor of the move. Batiste did say 95 percent of the survey was taken in the Syre Student Center, leading her to believe that the students spent at least some of their time near Heiner.

The other 5 percent of the survey, taken across campus, showed slim margins but overall was still in favor of the move. Batiste said students who do oppose the move do so at least in part to the convenience of where the lab is currently located, but added that the move is the first step to “slighting decreasing convenience for some in hopes of vastly increasing convenience for all.”
As for her personal stance, Batiste said she has an office as a student government member and, like many students, a laptop, and thus never uses the lab.
SAL Lab (7)One student proposed a compromise. Casey Lockhart, 22, is a Whatcom student who uses the SAL lab two days a week as part of his English 101 class, which splits their time evenly between the classroom and the lab. He says he thinks it would be nicer to have the labs in two different places than just one central location. “It seems more efficient,” he said.
Library director Linda Lambert, though, cast doubt on such a compromise, saying she didn’t know if the resources were available for two separate labs.
Sean Radwanski, 15, a full-time Running Start student who uses the lab almost every day to do homework, check e-mail, and write stories, said the lab move is helpful to students because it not only brings the lab closer to the library, but to other buildings as well.

“It’s more in the middle of everything,” Radwanski said of the future Heiner location.
Arturo Camejo, 19, works in the International Programs office and uses the SAL lab an average of four times a week to write essays and more. “I’m for it,” he said of the move to Heiner. “It’s more in the core of the campus.”
Josh Clark, 28, says he uses the computers in the library often, and thinks it’s a good idea to move the lab because it means he won’t have far to go to find other computers, and thus, he can avoid waiting in lines more often.
Clark recalls that in previous years at Whatcom, wait lines for computers used to be shorter. “This year’s not been like that, at all,” he said.

The opposite view was expressed by Crystal Bohm, 40, who seemed disappointed by the move, saying she enjoyed the access of the Cascade SAL lab due to the amount of time she spent in the science labs on that side of the campus.
“They were handy,” Bohm said of the SAL computers in Cascade.




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Testing the Watters

By Jessica Daniel
Horizon Reporter

“I see myself as a companion in the learning process as Aristotle saw himself to Alexander the Great,” said Tim Watters, as he explained that teaching is handing over knowledge.

Raised in the deep South of Aiken, South Carolina, Watters, a faculty member of Whatcom Community College since July 2002, teaches philosophy, world religions, communication, and interdisciplinary studies.
Watters has a triple bachelor’s degree in English, history and philosophy, and a Master’s in theology, civil law and European civil law. He plays the organ, and enjoys house renovating, parties, cooking, and weight training with low impact aerobics.
Watters enjoys teaching for what he sees in the students’ eyes. “That they get it; I enjoy what they teach me of life,” he said, calling Whatcom students the birth of our “future present.”Watters (5)
“Each student is in a rite of passage from the time of limited responsibility, to an age of informed leadership, leaving childhood behind,” Watters said. “The pressures upon them to meet this challenge are increasing exponentially as the nation struggles with an era of decline.”
Watters wants the students to understand the pressures in the real world. “If you’re not the one getting it, then you’ll be left behind,” Watters said.
During class, Watters encourages the students to get up in front of the class and explain to their peers what they’re discussing that day. By having a student do this, it shows them the pressure and competition of others, and pushes them to realize their potential.
“Instead of slowing down the tempo, we have to speed it up and put pressure on students to see what has been here all along, but never grabbed their attention,” Watters said. “It is a challenge we must accept. It’s not easy to broaden horizons.”
Watters said that every generation must do this, so the next generation can be succeeded, not replaced. “I try to refocus the students’ eyes on the larger ‘now’ then they have in their line of sight,” Watters said.Watters (3)
The Chinese have an ancient saying, said Watters, “The eyes are blind when the mind is elsewhere.”
“No one person can fulfill one duty,” Watters said. “It takes all of us together as a consciously formed community to be true to our national identity and purpose.”
Shane Everbeck is a student in Watters’ philosophy class. “He really cares and is a great teacher,” he said. “This class is really mind opening.”
Watters considers himself a professor of reality checks. “Students are leaving the arena of fairy tales, and becoming the authors of folk tales,” he said.
However, a major difference between the students and Watters is the life experience. “This I have to share,” Watters said. “This they have to acquire.”
Maddie Schatz is a student in Watters’ world religions class. “He’s a smart guy and knows what he’s talking about,” she said. “He’s a good teacher and is really laid back. That’s what I like about him.”
Watters spoke of the faculty, administrators and staff at Whatcom as an impressive crew. “They come together; there is no competition between them,” he said. Everyone wants the best for their colleagues.”Watters (1)
“Teaching is handing over knowledge and mentoring is the handing over of understanding,” Watters said. “This college does both. It is how future leaders are made.”
“The stars of this institution are the students. They are very intelligent; perhaps more than I am,” he added.
Recently in the hospital for eight days, starting with a diagnosis of the flu and leading to congestive heart, kidney and liver failure, Watters’ life was at risk.
He said the faculty sent letters and gave the students a chance to write cards and notes wishing for his health.
Kathi Hiyane-Brown, the President of Whatcom sent a heartfelt message of concern, along with Kim Reeves, a faculty member, encouraging people to send him chocolates, Watters said. Students and faculty came to visit him, “It was very uplifting,” he said.
The experience in the hospital left Watters with a new realization of fear. He said he does not fear death or the fear of dying, but rather the fear that a stranger will close his eyes in death.
“I want students to be my revenge on death,” Watters said. “The dead live on in the memory of the living.”
Something that Watters wishes to accomplish at Whatcom is to be deemed creditable, he said. “I’m not perfect or free from error, but I want to earn the students’ conscious trust, not the habitual trust they bring with them through the door.”
“If I am creditable, they will listen,” said Watters.
A dream of Watters is to win the lottery and invest the money in a foundation for the arts and humanities that will provide for the future through the present.
“Becoming comfortable with who I am not, and never will be; being comfortable in my own skin,” is what Watters is most proud of. He then quoted Plotinus. “The soul that beholds beauty becomes beautiful.”
Watters had a word of advice for students. “When you are 20, you worry what everyone thinks of you. When you are 40, you don’t care what anyone thinks about you. When you hit 60, very few have been thinking about you anyway.”
“So stop giving away your power to those who don’t even want it,” he said. “Learn what pleases you first; you may just learn your destiny.”

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A day in the life of Russell Bergstrom

By Kelly Sullivan
Guest Writer

Starting his morning five days a week at 4:15 is not a problem for garbage man Russell Bergstrom. He is “20 years Military” and at age 59 still appears as strong as the day he left the service. Bergstrom is about 5’5”, and built like an impenetrable stone wall. His hair is graying blond, and he has a strong handshake and respectful smile for anyone who will give them in return.
He has two tattoos easily visible since the “style” at the Bellingham Sanitary Service Company, or SSC, seems to be to rip off the sleeves of their neon yellow work shirts. The shirt is a part of Russell’s uniform, in addition to a pair of old jeans and work boots. The tattoo on his right arm is that of a smoking bulldog reminiscent of his days in the Marine Corp. “Once A Marine, all ways a Marine,” he says. He got it in 1971 at Jimmy’s tattoo parlor in Hong Kong. The other on his left bicep is an American flag with the name Tita signed above and Allan, Adrian and Abram below– his wife and three sons.

Bergstrom normally does the route himself. This is not a problem for a man who can lift with ease the huge green bins, the “TotersTM” us mere mortals grunt and groan about dragging the 10 feet up our driveways. Today he has some help from Andy Lord, a fellow garbage man. Lord is a “floater” which means he doesn’t have his own route yet.
Bergstrom received his own route after seven years as a floater. “It was the highlight of my career,” he said.
russellgarbagemanBergstrom’s truck is number 53, parked in the back of the lot. He remembers the first time he saw his truck it resembled a “burnt marshmallow.” Over the years it has received a new paint job, new engine and new transmission.
“It’s like a new truck,” he said. “It’s like my own.” He has the utmost respect for his truck, and treats it well. You need a good truck to be a good, safe driver, which is very important to Bergstrom.
Bergstrom’s route starts leaving the company lot on Holly and F Street. He turns right and drives up Holly towards downtown before going behind Rocket Doughnuts. Then he drives up to the museum and behind in the alley where the residential houses are. His route is only residential housing, as other trucks come by afterward for the commercial and business district. Bergstrom drives a “rear load truck,” the one used for residential routes. It is one of four different kinds the company owns and sends out every day to collect Bellingham’s massive amounts of garbage.
After a few houses downtown he then speeds up Magnolia and takes a left, right into the Super Supplement’s parking lot. Bergstrom has been a garbage man for 13 years now, which is easy to see as he handles the mammoth truck in the small alleyways with an experts ease.
“Tight alleys are just part of the job,” he said.
For the record Bergstrom prefers to be called a garbage man. “It’s the old title,” he said. “I still call supper, supper,” he added half jokingly.
Bergstrom and Lord are only two of the many garbage men that serve Bellingham. Their small roles however, keep the city functioning. Their obvious skills, and passion for the job ensure the streets are kept clean and daily life can move forward smoothly for us.

Bergstrom said he has found over the years there’s no stigma that comes with the title of garbage man, just old connotations and impressions. He recalls the past garbage men “with the beer bellies, smoking, drinking, a cigarette hanging out of their mouth.”
“That’s not me,” he said. “I believe a garbage man doesn’t have to look like garbage.” This is one of his ’50 tips’: holding the garbage away from you while you work keeps you looking clean.
Bergstrom received a degree in sociology from Western about 30 years ago. He found that even back in 1976, the position of garbage man had moved upwards in the eyes of society.
“With more pay, one earns more prestige,” said Bergstrom. While “shoe shine boy” in his opinion is at the bottom of the list of powerful jobs, Bergstrom earns $23.35 an hour, and says his position is no longer one step above the shoe shiners like it used to be. Working at Sanitary Service Company requires that Bergstrom and Lord are in the Teamsters Union.
“I’m a union man,” Bergstrom said. “I believe in unions.” This ensures that they receive at least eight hours pay five days a week. They work from about 6:30 in the morning until 2:30 in the afternoon when they dump their load off at the “burners”, the transfer stations on Slater Road where they used to incinerate the garbage. Today it’s loaded onto trucks or train cars for a trip to a distant landfill.

As they turn down the first alley, Lord who is bolstered onto the back of the truck by his own strength, grins and exaggerates wiping his brow indicating how quick Bergstrom is on the job. He rolls quickly down the alleys of Franklin/ Ellis, Franklin/ Grant and Grant/ Humbolt. At every stop between every two houses, Lord hops off the back of the truck and sets up the garbage cans while Bergstrom jumps out of the driver’s seat and comes over to help. The two work like a well oiled machine.
Bergstrom explains another of the “50 tips” a garbage man needs to learn to be good at his job. One example of this is the way the floater sets up the driver for a quick and efficient stop- and- go. If there is one garbage can on each side of the alley Lord first goes to the one farthest from him, on the driver’s side, and pulls it up to the “toter dumper”. These are the two big claws on the back of the truck that pick up, and hoist the garbage cans into the “hopper”, the big bin on the truck that crushes, and stores the garbage for the day’s run. Lord then runs over and pulls the one on his side up to the dumper and together the two place the toters on the claws. They then return the emptied trash bins to where they sat, almost as if they had never been touched.
Another tip is when there are two bins on one side of the alley. Lord would first set up Bergstrom by taking the bin farthest from the truck and places it in front of the driver’s toter dumper before then going back and setting up his own.
“It’s not rocket science, but it makes things go smooth,” Bergstrom said.
Further down the alley he waved and shouted a friendly ‘Hello’ to a customer awake at the hour before the suns comes up.

“We have some very nice customers,” he said, recalling that a few days earlier he’d received an entire cake from one of his customers. Once Bergstrom received a $100 bill from a woman on Chuckanut around the Holidays.
On the other end of the spectrum Bergstrom also recalls some particularly gross stories he’s had during his career. Back when he was a floater he was assigned to the routes northwest of Bellingham. He found in that particular area, for some reason most people wouldn’t use garbage bags, but threw their garbage right into the bins. During the summer, especially with the once-a-month pickups, the smells could be quite overwhelming, he said.
Russell Bergstrom has easily dispelled the old notion of the garbage man. He never once alluded to disliking his job and he clearly enjoys his work and is proud to say he is a garbage man.

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Cookin’ it up at the Co-op

By Matt Benoit

Horizon Editor

 Instructor Dorothy Hopkins said the idea came to her after seeing the film “Julie and Julia,” about food industry icon Julia Child.

Coop (3)“While contemplating the movie, I realized that the need for basic cooking skills is still apparent and that many in our culture are missing the value of preparing their own meals,” she said. “Preparing our own food helps us stay connected with ourselves, our family, and our community.”

So, Hopkins began offering a series of three cooking classes at the Cordata Community Food Co-op this fall, with priority given to Whatcom Community College students.

The classes cost $15, and I was fortunate enough to attend and, perhaps somewhat apprehensively—participate—in one of them.

The classes take place in the Roots room of the Co-op, a fairly spacious room located on the second floor of the building, and it is essentially contains a full kitchen. There are stacked plates on the counter next to the sink, a multi-burner stove covered with silver pots and pans reflecting the shine of the ceiling lights.

This particular class has few students, and when one of them fails to show, I become an involuntary participant. Today’s class will cover cutting, cooking, and safety techniques and the basics of shopping in bulk, all in preparation for the two-dish meal itself: buckwheat, potato, and spinach pilaf with a quinoa and black bean salad.

We begin the class in a normal, academic way, sitting around a rectangular table. Hopkins explains the basics of bulk shopping, including what a PLU means (price look-up), as well as advice on buying and keeping spices.

Next, Hopkins passes out recipes and other handouts, then instructs us to look at the course cookbook, “The Whole-Life Nutrition Cookbook.”

Coop (5)She explains what Quinoa is (an ancient Incan grain), adding that part of the focus of her classes is about experimenting with grain. At this point, I’m wondering if you can snort Quinoa or not.

Anyway, we now have to draw up a shopping list. Ashlynn Backus-Owen, a second-year WCC student working on a liberal studies degree, happily volunteers to do this.

Backus-Owen, 20, said she decided to take the classes because she simply didn’t know how to cook, possessing only baking skills. When she saw the classes advertised on a bulletin board at the college, she thought she would try it.

“I’ve always wanted to take a cooking class,” she says, adding that the fact there is more than one way to do things in cooking appeals to her. “I like the creative aspect,” she says, “mixing it up.”

Once she finishes writing up all the things we’ll need to buy (while hopefully staying on a budget of around $15, says Hopkins), we voyage downstairs and advance to the bulk section. Hopkins shows us the rows of rice, beans, lentils, salts, and other products just waiting to be scooped and poured into bags and containers.

Coop (4)She shows us the proper way to do this, and then shows us the ultra-cool liquid dispensers, which include maple syrup and olive oil, the latter of which we need. I get to hold the bottle, stick it underneath the pour spout, and push the magic button. While I’m doing this, I notice the big, red emergency shut-off button, no doubt there in case someone gets carried away with Vermont’s finest and sends it spraying everywhere.

We tackle the produce section next for limes, lemons, spinach, and red potatoes among other ingredients. At the checkout stand, our total comes to nearly $30. So much for the budget. Later though, Hopkins explains, we’ll have enough food for 12 servings, meaning you could eat off it for a week at $2.50 a meal.

Heading back upstairs, we go over basic kitchen safety. I’m told to remove the synthetic windbreaker I’m wearing because of it’s flammability factor—Hopkins shows us a small article from the Bellingham Herald in which women’s robes were recalled after 9 deaths occurred as a result of catching on fire; most of them were in the kitchen when it happened.

Fortunately, I don’t wear women’s robes, but, not wanting to have any chance at burning up like a gas-soaked rag, I remove my polyester jacket.

We divvy up responsibilities and go to work. I get to cut the potatoes, slice the lemons (which I accidently cut into slices instead of wedges), strain the Quinoa, check the potatoes, pour the potatoes, set timers, and generally try to stay the hell out of everyone else’s way.

Coop (1)Eventually, the food is cooked, and we sit down to enjoy it together. It is this sitting together for a meal, says Hopkins, that is so important. She cites the Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, which created a family meal day after their research suggested that children who eat at home with their families a majority of nights during the week have lower rates of cigarette smoking, eating disorders, alcohol and substance abuse, and higher grades.

“Preparing and sharing meals creates relationships and relationships are what enrich our lives and make them worth living,” says Hopkins.

The food, I must admit, is better than I expected, and there is something about the pride of successfully cooking your own meals that make it taste just a little bit better.

For college students, Hopkins adds, the skill of cooking is a basic survival skill, especially in a world where cheap, fast food is seemingly everywhere.

“Our culture is relying on the fast food industry to nourish us, but our health is not in their best interest,” she says. “Fast food is notorious for having low nutritional value.

Our health in our later years is determined by what we eat now.  When we select our ingredients for our recipes, we are taking charge of our health at a core level.”

Between the five of us, we don’t make much of a dent in the amount of food we’ve cooked. There are lots of leftovers. Hopkins sums up her impetus for the classes.

“Offering these cooking classes is my way of making the world a better place,” she says.

“This one small act has rippling effects.  The students at WCC are just starting their adult lives.  Soon, many of them will be marrying and starting families of their own.  Their children will have to eat.  If a student takes a beginning cooking class from me and is then able to prepare for his/her children healthy and nutritious meals from the start, those children will grow into the strong, happy, healthy adults we want the next generation to become.  What a satisfying feeling to realize that by teaching someone how to use a knife and cook rice, I will have positively impacted another person 20 years later.”

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The official student newspaper of Whatcom Community College in Bellingham, Washington