College of the Mainland will host a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event form 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Jan. 26 in the COM Learning Resource Center Auditorium, 1200 Amburn Road, in Texas City. Lunch will be served and the event is open to the public. For more information, call 409-933-8438.

Make music at COM this spring

Pursue a lifelong interest or explore a new passion with COM’s personalized music classes, open this fall to continuing education and degree-seeking students alike.

COM’s individual and group classes are open to students from novices to lifelong performers. Those who have no experience or do not read music can enroll in group classes in piano, guitar or voice. For those who want to collaborate musically, COM offers musical ensembles for community and student musicians who want to perform and hone their skills.

Vocal and instrumental ensembles are open to credit and continuing education students and community members. Ensembles include the COM Concert Band, Jazz Ensemble, Jazz Combo, Woodwind Ensemble, Guitar Ensemble, Duck and Cover A Cappella Group and Mainland Chorale.

For more information about the COM Music Program, visit www.com.edu/fine-arts or call 409-933-8348.

Fewer slammed doors the goal of Interpersonal Communications class

Words fly. Tempers flare. Voices shout — “But Criminal Minds is better than Shark Week!”

In Interpersonal Communications, students role-play common conflicts and how to tackle them, whether roommates determining which TV show to watch, couples deciding whose family to visit or employees deciding whose idea is best.

“You learn how to communicate, not just socially but professionally,” said student Adam Alvarado, of Texas City. “In the electronic age, interpersonal communication to me is a lost art. This is learning new ways to do things. You learn how to talk to people.”

They dive into the five styles of conflict resolution — competing, collaborating, compromising, avoiding and accommodating. The goal is collaboration, where all parties win, not just one (or neither).

The homework is applicable to nearly any situation from roommate drama to family crises.

“It’s eye-opening; I am now a stepmom to a 12-year-old, and I’ve never been a mom,” said student Danielle Kirkpatrick, of Webster. “It’s taught me how people listen and what they listen for. I have to put myself in her shoes. I have to learn how to speak to her with tact. It gives me some strategies. It has helped me see other perspectives.”

Professor Julie Garcia, who has taught at COM five years and previously taught at Texas State Technical College in Harlington, guides students in analyzing real-world situations.

“I also use a lot of films,” said Garcia. “I have them pick a movie from the list and identify six to eight concepts we’ve talked about in class like the self-fulfilling prophecy.”

It’s an exercise in viewing life from another’s eyes.

It’s paying off for students as they apply what they discover to situations outside the classroom.

“You learn life skills,” said Alvarado. “I’m learning why I am the way I am. I think we all have stupid patterns, but if we take classes like this, we can break them.”

For more information, email jgarcia37@com.edu.

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