I was pretty reluctant about going to my college reunion this year. I have always hated cocktail party type events and the small talk that accompanies them. I knew that reunion would have a lot of conversations like this.
One of the things I love about Dillingham is that typical small talk is virtually nonexistent. The usual question, “What do you do?” is pointless in a place where everyone already knows. In Dillingham instead we talk about “What beer are you brewing? How is your kid? What book did you just finish? How is your art project going?” A really popular one, “What have you been cooking lately?” My lunch group can talk about this one for a long while. These conversations just feel like they have more substance to them.
Many Dartmouth folks have kept in close touch with each other since graduation, enabling them to see good friends and avoid all the small talk. I, on the other hand, haven’t kept up with folks. I tried some right after college, but then life got busy- teaching, doing night classes for grad. school, and starting my family. Being far away in Alaska has of course made it more challenging too. Being out of touch made me quite reluctant to go to reunion, but in the end I’m so happy that I went.
There was definitely a lot of, “What are you up to?” and “Where are you these days?” Yet, I actually enjoyed these conversations because people are doing such fascinating things. I find it hard to believe that not even ten years out people are professors and doctors already- I always thought those were careers done by old people and we are definitely not old yet!
Some of these conversations even lead to really reconnecting with people and finding new common interests. I (regretfully) didn’t take any Native studies classes at Dartmouth, but since I’ve been teaching in communities with significant Alaska Native populations I had some good talks with people about these issues. It was also easy to reconnect with friends that have babies too- parenting is a huge adventure so that made for some rich conversations.
Finally, it was great to just be in the Upper Valley and be on campus. I had forgotten just how much I love the area. Kyle has heard a lot about Dartmouth, so it was great for him to see it and get a sense of the campus.
This reluctant reunioner is thrilled to have gone and reconnected with great people in an amazing place.