In a classroom in the High School building, students in the Made by Me Field Academy course are knitting scarves, weaving baskets, beading jewelry, and much more. The course—which is led by teachers Mami Takeda, Kim Borsack, Ria Meng, and Sherry Qiu—inspires students to disconnect from consumer culture and experience the rewards of making things by hand.
“We live in a very consumer-driven society,” Kim said. “Making our own items gives us a greater sense of ownership and helps us to realize what‘s we’re putting into and on our bodies, and gives us a sense of pride.”
The class is divided into two sections. In the mornings, students work together on a single project, such as making dumplings or beading jewelry. During the second half of the day, students are given the freedom to work on individual projects of their choice. Although many of the students had no crafting experience, the breadth of projects undertaken has given them the opportunity to learn new skills. So far, they’ve learned to knit, bake, make jewelry, craft dreamcatchers, and make all-natural lip balm.
Di (Leo) Liu ’19 enrolled in this class to connect with his family. Although many in his family craft as hobbies, Leo said that prior to Field Academy, he’d never before made anything by hand. Inspired by his grandmother’s avid knitting, Leo has quickly taken to the practice and is now considered to be to the course’s most efficient tricoteur. For his independent project, Leo is making gifts for his three younger siblings. His brother and two sisters enjoy making things by hand, and he wants to give them thoughtfully produced handmade items as gifts instead of those purchased in stores. Among the gifts he’s making are scented aromatherapy sachets, filled with dried lavender and rose.
For her independent project, India Galesi-Grant ’20 is making an embroidered qipao, a slim traditional Chinese dress. India signed up for the class because she hoped it would give her the opportunity to further explore her passion for Chinese language and culture. Prior to taking this course, she had no experience with sewing or embroidery, and undertaking the project has given her the chance to learn new skills and create a lasting artifact of her love of Chinese.
“We focused on making products that people take for granted: simple everyday things,” Kim said. Yet the experience has inspired the students to make more than just things. They’ll complete the class having made new hobbies, new friends, and lasting memories.