A popular knitting circle brings together students
and helps them through the transitions of campus life.
IT WAS LIKE GRANDMOTHER'S KITCHEN FROM YEARS AGO, except this was downstairs at the Student Union Building on a Friday afternoon. A pot of chamomile tea sat brewing while the clack, clack of knitting needles punctuated a gentle buzz of conversation. Suddenly there was a howl of dismay: “Oh no, I’ve got a hole!” Experienced knitters rushed to rescue Richa Sharma, a second year anthropology student, who was tackling knitting for the first time and had hit the dreaded dropped stitch. Among her companions was her boyfriend Nick Fodor, third year psychology major and veteran knitter.
Men who knit? “Why not, dude?” replies Tyler Becker, headphones askew playing music in one ear while he concentrated on knitting a green scarf that was already snaking impressively over his knees. “It’s much fun creating something out of a tangle of thread, very relaxing,” says the third year physics student.
Welcome to Knitting 101—one of the new, free workshops run by the Student Transition Centre, established last September to help students through the various stages of the UVic experience. Student Affairs coordinator Sue Corner, BFA ’79, trailing her yarn behind her, linked everyone—literally and metaphorically—in a cat’s cradle of companionship: “We’re here to answer questions, to help students who may be having difficulties or simply to offer a place for them to meet, chat and share ideas.”
Transitions—from learning the ropes of campus life to graduation—come with student life, where the only constant is change. “Some people handle that better than others,” says Corner. “A lot depends on personality and background. Our goal is to help ease the way so that they don’t feel like they’re just one of 18,000 people.”
The UVic Alumni Association is among seven UVic groups supporting the Student Transition Centre. Other workshops, such as salsa dancing, opportunities for working overseas, improv acting and sustaining UVic’s environment, are also offered. Word is getting around. About 250 students dropped in during January.
The centre is helpful for overseas students, too, says Tia Robertson, BSc ’03, of the International and Exchange Student Services office. “We’re expecting that this will be a great place for us to build bridges between different cultural groups and to foster a sense of community.”
Back at the knitting group, the plan appears to be working. Michiyo Sugiyama and Asumi Yamada, both fourth year linguistics students from Japan, erupted in peals of laughter as they shared some knotty knitting problems with the group. “I didn’t expect to learn to knit here,” says Sugiyama. “My mother will be happy!”
Now that they have everyone knitting up a storm, centre organizers have an idea in the works for a cookbook with favourite recipes from international students. What’s next in the array of traditional arts, calligraphy? “Now there,” says Corner, “is an idea.”
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