QCS Senior Writer
Over a dozen students learned about Chinese heritage and how to cook a Chinese meal from Golden Dragon Chinese Restaurant owner Tammy Fang as part of Mesalands Community College’s Community Education Course.
The class, originally designed for five students, expanded rapidly as the registration deadline neared earlier this month.
Donna Garcia, who coordinates both distance education and community education for Mesalands, said the college originally planned on only having 5 students sign up for the cooking class, so each one would get a cooking station at Tucumcari High School’s culinary arts kitchen. She said that number was increased to 10 when Fang asked that that students be allowed to work as partners at each station.
“Lets get as many people in there as we can I told them,” Fang said. “Small communities like this need courses like this to bring us all closer together.”
Garcia said on the day of the class five more asked to be signed up and were added to the class. She said on the day after the class, she was already receiving questions about when the next class would be scheduled.
“It was such a great bonding experience,” Garcia said. “Everyone had such a good time and the food was amazing. This gives people a chance to learn something new and met and socialize with new people.”
Garcia also expressed appreciation to the high school for allowing the class to be held in its culinary arts kitchen.
Fang said she approached Garcia about doing a Chinese cooking class, using ingredients available at local retail stores.
“I have had people come into the restaurant asking if we would give them cooking lessons,” Fang said.
Garcia said Mesalands has offered community education since 2002, and said it is wonderful when residents step up wanting to teach a course.
“There is no teaching requirement needed to teach one of these courses,” Garcia said. “If a person has a skill set and is willing teach those interested, we encourage them to approach the college with their ideas.”
The courses fulfill part of a state requirement and costs come directly from the general fund, not a special allotment. Garcia said the college must approve the course material.
Courses have been structured to offer a fall, spring and summer session. Garcia said in the fall most of the courses offered are informational, including business workshops and Social Security updates. In the spring, she said, the courses focus more on crafts, enrichment and personal interest.
“The class was very informative and Tammy Fang was so knowledgeable and patient with the students preparing the meals,” said Rhonda VanWinkle, course participant. “She showed me that I could do something I once thought was going to be too hard and difficult.”
Fang also conducted a Chinese Heritage course in which she displayed a photo album of her wedding and brought traditional wedding dresses to the class.
VanWinkle attended the heritage class as well and said she was fascinated to learn about the Chinese culture.
“It makes me feel good to share my heritage with others,” Fang said. “I always like to share and like it more when it makes people happy.”
Garcia said the college will consider doing additional Chinese cooking classes in the future and said there could be other courses in cooking offered soon.
For more information about courses or to discuss possible course ideas, interested person can contact Donna Garcia at Mesalands by calling (575) 461-4413.