Speaking, listening, stitching is a winning trifecta

Published 6:58 pm Friday, March 31, 2023

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Those not in the know could think Jenny Meadow’s class at Troy University was having too much fun. For sure, they were having fun.

“The class is Oral Interpretation, a course offered in the College of Communication and Fine Arts,” Meadow said. “Students learn vocal and physical techniques to help them better communicate texts and stories shared with an audience.”

Meadows said oral interpretation can be simplified with one word,” storytelling.”

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“My Oral Interpretation students are leaning to tell stories; they are learning to be better listeners and they are learning to quilt.”

“Quilt? In an Oral Interpretation class?

Meadows said quilting is not often thought of a listening opportunity but it can be, and often is.’

And, listening is learning, Meadows said.

“When you are still and quiet, then you are ready to listen,” she said. “Speaking and listening go hand in hand. My students have opportunities to tell their stories before the class and each story told is an opportunity to listen. Quilting is calming and makes it easier to listen and learn.”

This is what Jenny Meadow’s students had to say about a class where talking out loud is required, listening must be done with both ears and the heart and quilting is the order of every day.

“The quilting project we have been working on over the past few weeks has been amazing,” said Sarah Laney, Fairview. “Quilting is a  great way to relax, but, at the same time, it also feels like you are accomplishing something both academically and artistically.

“Even though we don’t continuously look at the speaker of the story while we quilt, we can better focus on the stories being told because we are free from all distractions besides the needle and thread.”

Sarah said the concept she has  found most surprising is that the entire class quilt helps the story speaker more than the listener. All types of storytellers benefit from our quilting. Those who are shyer have fewer eyes on them, which gives them more confidence, and those who enjoy the spotlight had to dig even deeper and give even more to get the listener to look up from their quilting.”

Abby Godshall of  Prattville said, when she came to  class and was told they would be sewing a quilt, she was slightly interested.”

“I typically don’t enjoy sewing and didn’t understand how it could possibly help us as we continued our storytelling lesson,” she said. “I was quickly humbled. Through quilting, I have learned more about each of my classmates. We have been able to grow closer as we laugh and share our stories.”

Abby said, just like each unique patch of the quilt matches each student’s personalities, the stories are all different, coming together in one beautiful work of art that brings comfort and joy.”

Lizzy Bankester of Rosinton said she has “absolutely loved getting to see everyone’s personalities through both their stories and their sewing projects.

“The act of sewing while our classmates practiced their stories made the environment a lot more calm and less intimidating.”

Lizzy said, although she doesn’t have a problem with public speaking, she understands that others do.

“Quilting  definitely eased the whole ‘performance’ aspect of storytelling,” she said.  Although the sewing was educational, this was an amazing mental break from school for me. I still got to learn, but this class became a break in my academic storm right now.”

Arizona Nichols from Montgomery, said the quilting-storytelling project has shown the classmates  that ,while working together, they can  learn from each other and produce something unique and meaningful that serves a purpose.

“No one person or group of people could make the same quilt,” Arizona said. “Each individual square represents a part of us that, when joined with others, creates something that represents our class as a whole.”

Hade Jaet of Mobile said listening to stories as they  sewed or crocheted helped grasp an understanding of the past while being in the present.

“The community aspect of getting to know our classmates better throughout the semester was nice, knowing I probably would not have met them outside the classroom. I found it enjoyable because I already like to crochet or make crafts and getting to do it for a class just really made me want to learn and go to class more excited. I decided to crochet my squares because of that point, crochet just felt more me than sewing.

Svetlana Mack said, collaborating on the quilting assignment has afforded each classmate an opportunity to showcase and share his or her unique talents.

“This assignment has allowed us to appreciate each other’s gifts as each square is elaborately sewn together to convey a story of its own,” Svetlana  said. “Overall our quilting project has been a very beneficial experience that has taught us to indulge in the creative process, to appreciate it and learn from it.”