by Sierra Guardiola
Aside from blogging for Life in the Finger Lakes, I am also a multimedia reporter for Ithaca Week, a student-run website that produces stories covering a variety of topics in the Ithaca area. I was tasked with producing four multimedia stories over the course of this semester covering local happenings in the Ithaca area. For my final story of the semester, I chose to cover a cooking class called Kids in the Kitchen offered by the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County. What caught my eye was that it was a class for kids, and through my previous story coverage I found that the stories I reported on that involved kids were often the most fun to put together. So I headed down to Willow Avenue with my iPad, tripod, and notepad ready to produce my final story of the semester.
I went into the night thinking I would be attending a typical cooking class where there was an adult demonstrating how to make a basic recipe with the rest of the class following along and mimicking their lead. What I actually walked into was so different than that. This cooking class, which prides itself on teaching kids self-confidence in the kitchen, focuses on providing the kids with skills they can transfer into their own kitchens at home and into the future while also offering them a glimpse into global cuisine.
The kids came in ready to get started with the night’s theme: Mediterranean cuisine. They split up into four stations that were each tasked with cooking a different recipe that would culminate into one large meal they would share together at the end of class. As I walked around with my iPad filming the students as they worked diligently over the course of an hour to whip together a variety of dishes, I was wildly impressed by their confidence and curiosity. These kids were all under the age of 14 and were creating dishes that would be challenging for an adult to whip up as swiftly as they were. The best part of it all was that every student seemed to genuinely be enjoying themselves.
I expected to walk into a classroom that was much more structured and where the students would learn the skills taught and then go home. But here the students learned the importance of working in a team, being creative, and expanding their palate in an environment that was the farthest from a conventional lecture and experimentation that I had expected to see. The kids not only experimented with the food they were making, but with the friendships they were making too by learning to work with other kids they did not know before.
I left the night with such a high appreciation for community opportunities like this one. Programs that encourage people to get outside their comfort zones and be more involved with the community they are a part of is something so valuable. It fosters connections and inspires the people who participate to never stop learning and expanding on their abilities, keeping the spirit of learning alive.