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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

But I only count 11 ...


Sunday night I had dinner with strangers. Monday afternoon, I had a bunch of new friends.

You may think that’s a little odd, but at Emory it’s the norm because of the growing popularity of the “Dinner with 12 Strangers” program, now in its sixth year. Each September, students, both undergraduate and professional, can sign up to attend a local dinner—either at an alumni home or with alumni at a local restaurant. This year, more than 50 alumni across the country opened up their homes, and some 460 students attended.

For a second year in a row, I had the great fortune of attending a dinner hosted by Dirk Brown 90MBA (above, far right), Tim Burns, and Tom Brodnax 65Ox 68C, which took place at Dirk and Tim’s home in Virginia-Highland. We had a great mix of undergraduate and graduate-student “strangers.”

Some students came with friends, some came on their own, and within a few minutes we were all no longer strangers. It’s amazing how the common bond of Emory really creates an instant sense of community.

Everyone arrived about 6:00 p.m. and after a little mingling, Brown said a few words and wished everyone the same long-lasting, meaningful relationship with Emory that he has. We were treated to a delicious, 5-star-restaurant-quality buffet, which included salmon, chicken salad, caprese salad, and homemade pound cake with fresh strawberries and whipped cream.

I loved seeing the students’ faces light up when they saw the amazing and beautifully presented spread of food. They always say it’s 10 times better than what they normally eat.

My dinner table, outside on the patio, included students ranging from a freshman to a second-year MBA student. We discussed everything from the students’ plans after graduation, long-term goals, current food options on campus (and how far they’ve come!), how to apply to get into a particular program, groups and clubs at Emory, to the TV show Glee.

It was an extremely relaxed, comfortable environment to get to know some more people in the Emory community. I even met a junior who is renting out the same house near campus that my brother rented last year. It is truly a small world, and as a staff member, I am grateful to be a part of it.

Next February, anyone who has participated in “Dinner with 12 Strangers” will be invited back for a “Dessert with 12 Friends” at the Miller-Ward Alumni House. It will be great to see everyone again soon.

-- Lindsay Topping, assistant director, Emory Annual Fund

2 comments:

  1. Hey Lindsay should Jason and I host a dinner?

    ReplyDelete
  2. You guys totally should!

    ReplyDelete