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As troubles in the Middle East may not cease anytime soon, it might behoove interested persons (and those angling for those insanely lucrative defense contract jobs) to study up on the vagaries of the Arabic language. The Network of Arab-American Professionals offers beginning, intermediate, and advanced courses in spoken and standard written Arabic.


Now that we have Ikea, New York has a new source for attractive and innovative vases. But why put money in the pockets of friendly Swedish industrialists when you can craft your own flowerpots? La Mano Pottery, a 10-year-old studio in Chelsea, offers small classes—and private lessons—in both hand-built and wheel methods. You can get your hands dirty in a series of six-week classes, while keeping yourself clean with the plentiful towels and aprons that the studio provides.

Like many a chocolate bar, we New Yorkers have a hard coating and an intensely gooey center. How else to explain the success of Etsy, a highly successful website for adorable handmade goods, founded in downtown Brooklyn? If you'd like to be not only a consumer but also a producer of the endearing items, you might head over to company headquarters and take some of their classes in printing, dyeing, embroidery, soap making, and bookbinding.

New York City is not a small town, but parts of Staten Island can suggest a very reasonable facsimile thereof. The latest evidence: The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation is hosting an event in Historic Richmond Town that looks very much like a quilting bee. Beginners and more advanced quilters can sign up for this eight-week course, resulting in a nine-piece patch baby quilt.


New York isn't exactly an equestrian's paradise—all those buildings get in the way of happy trails. And the Claremont Riding Academy, Manhattan's only stable and the oldest operating school in the country, recently closed its barn doors. But would-be riders can still pony up in Brooklyn at Kensington Stables. Founded in 1930, Kensington offers lessons outdoors and in an indoor ring, as well as guided trail rides and pony parties.

Well, shoot. Robin Hood devotees can add another arrow to their hobby quiver with classes at Queens Archery Supplies and Range in Flushing. Boasting eminently reasonable rates (you get one free lesson with your first equipment rental or bow purchase), its coaches will instruct students in the sport of archery for "recreation, competition, or hunting." Look out, rats and squirrels.

Attention, swingers: Baseball enthusiasts looking to improve their stats can sign up for instruction at the Upper West Side's Baseball Center NYC. Children and adults can benefit from a curriculum that includes video analysis, conditioning classes, and the mysterious "Mental Tools training." Be sure to wear a helmet: Their ProBatter machine can pitch up to 100 miles per hour.


In winter, even the most avid and well-clad gardeners have to admit there isn't much they can encourage to grow, out of doors, at least. But those who are twiddling their green thumbs might consider classes at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. In "All About Orchids," an expert orchid curator will lecture on indoor orchid gardening. Each participant will take home an orchid on which to practice.

Always wanted to join a scientific expedition? Members of the American Museum of Natural History have the opportunity for exploration with a series of guided field studies. This winter's trips—Mystic, Connecticut, and Philadelphia—may not sound particularly intrepid, but they will introduce participants to, respectively, the history and culture of the Pequot Nations and Philly's Academy of Natural Sciences and its marvelously creepy Mutter Museum.


The Educational Alliance on the Lower East Side has been operating for more than 119 years and has some extraordinary photographs to prove it. Its art classes continue to teach photography, including one of its earliest manifestations, the pinhole camera. Students will "convert existing cameras to pinhole cameras, create images, and learn darkroom procedures for printing their black and white photographs."

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