The setting was comfy, the food was delicious and the conversation was lively.
As part of the College’s annual Dinner with 12 Strangers program, 16 staff, alumni and students – including me – sat in the living room of Caroline Gransee ’09 on Feb. 23 in a circle of cozy armchairs, couches, stools and dining chairs.
Eight dinners, sponsored by the Office of Alumni Relations, were organized to promote community building within the Connecticut College circle, but as we enjoyed a delicious chicken parmesan meal, we began to discuss whether or not “12 strangers” exists at Connecticut College – a campus known for its community-feel.
Soon though, I was using the dinner as an opportunity to get to know local resident Louise Pittaway ’76, an English major who now works as the curator of the Old Lighthouse Museum in Stonington, Conn. Pittaway, like me, was a first-timer at a Dinner with 12 Strangers event and said the program introduced her to some of today's Connecticut College students.
“Today, people have already explored a lot by the time they get to college, and as a result, they have a much broader horizon than my generation did,” she said. “It’s exciting that you have so many opportunities and the luxury of so many choices available to you, specifically in terms of career directions.”
While Pittaway used the dinner as a way to connect with current students, Andrew Greaves ’13, the only other freshman besides me in the room, said he thought the program was a great way to get off campus and do something different. “I saw it as an opportunity outside the day-to-day life for a Conn student,” he added.
This year’s program ran from Feb. 18-26, and faculty, staff and alumni all offered to host dinners for the Connecticut College community. This year, over 100 guests signed up to attend – a number so large that it warranted a waitlist.
Before I left my own dinner, I also caught up with our hostess, Gransee, in the kitchen as she cleaned up the remnants of dinner. She hosted two dinners this year and wished she had taken advantage of the program as an undergraduate.
“The huge turnout this year shows how excited people are about meeting other Camels and building relationships,” she said. “It goes to show the quality of the environment we create here at Connecticut College.”
-Meredith Boyle ’13