Wren Haaland can double dutch like nobody's business,
and she has the medals to prove it. The Johns Hopkins
sophomore took up competitive jump roping nine years ago,
and her career skipped to a high point this summer when she
struck gold with Team USA at the International Rope
Skipping Federation World Championships held in Toronto,
Now Haaland wants to teach the entire Hopkins
community a jump roping trick or two.
Haaland, a public health major and certified jump rope
instructor, will teach a course called Extreme Jump Rope as
part of Intersession
2007, which runs from Jan. 3 to Jan. 19.
The course is one of many noncredit personal
enrichment offerings that have become a staple of
Intersession at Homewood, alongside the academic programs
offered to undergraduates. Not just for students, the
program has increasingly attracted staff, faculty and local
residents who want to take up a new hobby or better
Extreme Jump Rope is billed as a group exercise class
that will introduce participants to many different forms of
jump rope, including single rope, double-dutch and
individual tricks. The class will be held on Tuesday and
Thursday nights from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
The veteran of dozens of regional and international
jump roping competitions, Haaland said that she hopes to
convey with the course that the activity is not just for
"Jump roping is something a person can stick with
throughout their life, whether it's to spice up their
fitness routines, apply to their regular workout or just
for fun," she said. "It's a great cardio workout and also
has elements of strength training. There are a lot of
In total, Intersession 2007 features 33 personal
enrichment and development classes broken into the
categories of music, dance, art, health and wellness,
hobbies, language and theater. The course instructors are a
mix of faculty, staff, students and professionals.
This year's list of courses includes Introduction to
Playing the Appalachian Fiddle, Ballet for Adults,
Introduction to Massage, Getting to Know Your Shadow,
Healing with Color, Juggling, Beer History and
Appreciation, Practical Chinese for Business and Pleasure,
What Are Words For? and others. The classes, all held on
the Homewood campus, range in price from $20 to $395, with
most between $20 and $40.
Mattin Center/Levering Union director Jane Rhyner, who
has coordinated the personal enrichment Intersession
program for 21 years, said that her goal each year is to
provide an eclectic mix of courses that focus on fun and
Rhyner solicits ideas from the university population,
and in recent years the program has relied heavily on the
contributions and creativity of students. "I've found that
students, both graduates and undergraduates, have a lot to
offer," she said. "They have a hobby or interest and want
to teach it to others."
Gadget guys Mike Chi, David
Cummings and Andrew Liu will demystify the inner workings
of some modern-day devices.
Photo by Will Kirk / HIPS
Such was the case with Gadget Design, a new
Intersession course to be taught by three engineering
seniors: Mike Chi, David Cummings and Andrew Liu. The
class, sponsored in part by the JHU student chapter of the
Institute of Electronic and Electrical Engineers, will
attempt to introduce participants to the world of DIY
electronic gizmos such as MP3 players, POVs
(persistence-of-vision devices) and disco-light dance
floors. Students will learn the basic principles of
instrument design and build their own device.
Rhyner said that she is very open to course proposals,
and each year's Intersession features five to 12 new
classes. In fact, she admits she has a hard time telling a
"But if a proposal is a little too academic, I will
tell them to tone it down and make it more fun," she
Historically, the two most popular Intersession
courses have been Wine Tasting and Ballroom Dancing. Wine
Tasting offers participants an introduction to the most
popular varietals — chardonnay, pinot noir, cabernet
sauvignon — and the most prominent wine regions in
the United States and Europe. Charles Lawrence, a retired
psychologist and School of Public Health alum, has taught
an Intersession wine tasting class for the past 20 years.
Before that, he taught a similar course at the School of
Medicine, where he was an adjunct faculty member.
Lawrence attributes the success of the course, always
among the first to fill up, to wine's lasting and growing
"Quite simply, a lot of people want to know a little
more about wine," Lawrence said. "And the course somehow
has attracted word of mouth. People take it and tell others
how much they enjoyed it."
In addition to the personal enrichment courses,
Intersession includes for-credit academic offerings, study
abroad opportunities, "experiential learning" trips and
GRE, LSAT and MCAT preparation. According to Office of the
Registrar statistics, the Intersession offerings have been
steadily growing in popularity. In 2002, just over 900
enrolled in Intersession courses. Last year, enrollment
jumped to 1,286.
Jessica Madrigal, Intersession director, attributes
the increased enrollment to the concerted effort to offer a
diversity of classes that are topical and engaging but
slightly less challenging than semester-long courses.
"This is evidence for me that the evolution of
Intersession course offerings from traditional three-credit
graded courses to our current format [of mostly short
one-credit pass/fail classes] has helped Hopkins attract
more students each year," Madrigal said. "When designing
the Intersession curriculum, our intention is to schedule
courses that are appealing enough to lure students back to
campus from their holiday break."
And if they want to add some fun to their schedule,
they can jump right into a personal enrichment class,
For the complete list of Intersession offerings and
registration information, go to