Students, faculty discuss out-of-classroom passions

Scott Infanger, associate professor of foreign languages,explains his process of creating bow ties. Infanger uses old ties to make his bow ties from scratch. He has contemplated selling his bow ties but decided against it because he said it would become a job and no longer for fun.

After a long day at school or work, students and faculty say they want to find a way to relax and unwind.

Most everyone has a hobby, but in today’s society it can be hard to find time to indulge in them.

When junior Johnna Dixon first came to UNA she made decorating her dorm room door a tradition.

“My mom’s an elementary school teacher, and they do that pretty much all the time for their class room doors,” she said. “She came my freshman year and asked me if I wanted to cover my door. My roommate and I did it with her, and I’ve been doing it since.”

Some students like freshman Samuel Schafer find their passions in fad trends.

“I saw some people (dancing) and I said to myself, ‘I could do that,’” he said. “I started doing it, and it became fun to me. Then I started dancing by myself and practicing.”

Although some may dread thinking about physical activity, many hobbies come from it.

“Dancing is not only good for a person’s physical health, but also their emotional health,” Schafer said. “Dancing can help some people release their pent- up emotions.”

Although the benefits of running are obvious to freshman Jordan Cooper, he said he thinks many people do not appreciate the sport the way he does.

“It’s the feeling of always being competitive, not just with others, but also with myself,” he said. “I can push myself to my limits and beyond.”

Lesley Peterson, associate professor of English, picked up gardening when she moved from Canada to Alabama.

“I was very interested in learning more about what kinds of plants grew here,” she said. “It was an interesting way to learn more about the area. Gardening here has been my way of putting down roots — literally as well as metaphorically.”

Gardening can be enjoyable for anyone depending on how they look at it, she said.

“I think it’s like cooking: if you think of it as work, then it’s a chore. But if you think of it as something fun that you are doing because you want to and not because you have to, then it can be fun,” she said.

Peterson said she loves the ease of gardening.

“I like getting dirt under my nails,” she said. “And I like that it doesn’t matter if I do it badly. I’m just having fun and not trying to impress anyone. When it goes well, I’ve created a little beauty, which is satisfying.”

Department Chair of Communications Gregory Pitts said collecting outdated technology is nostalgic.

“I worked in radio when I was in high school and college,” he said. “The radios themselves are just kind of neat. It reminds me of a time when the only way to get information was through the radio.”

Pitts said his favorite part of collecting is the human connection.

“It’s looking at what you have and finding what’s unique and thinking about who listened to it and what it could’ve told them,” he said. “I compare and contrast the technology that we have now to the ones I find.”

Some students and faculty may find it hard to find time to do the things they love.

“Right now my garden is a mess,” Peterson said. “Mostly during the school year I only find time for my garden on weekends. In summers, it’s better. I’ll go out early and putter until about 8 a.m., after which it’s too hot to work outside.”

Scott Infanger, associate professor of foreign languages said he does not have a lot of time when classes are in session to make the bow ties he often wears.

“It all takes time, and I have found it is easier to do them in batches,” he said. “I usually take a day during semester breaks to make a couple dozen out of the ones I have prepped.”

Students also have trouble balancing school and personal hobbies, student Jordan Cooper said.

“It’s really hard to find time in college to run,” he said. “I tend to run in the mornings, usually just before class or after class or work if I have time.” Student Johnna Dixon said she must make time in the day to work on her craft.

“I have to pick a day and tell myself that this is the day that I am going to sit down and cover my door,” she said. “I schedule it in because it’s something that I really like to do.”

Some are lucky enough to have a hobby that can be done anywhere at almost any time.

I just have to make time,” Schafer said. “I do something called tutting, which involves (dancing with) my hands. So, I can easily practice that in class. Anytime I have a spare moment, I dance.”

There is often a story behind the passion.

“My mother loved gardening, and I have pleasant memories of helping her pull weeds sometimes, as a child,” Peterson said. “Maybe that sounds crazy, but I remember those times as companionable.”