An Open Letter to The Hoya’s “Dinner with 7 ‘Strangers’: A Recipe for Disaster?”
Dearest Ms. Marina Smith & The Hoya,
It is with warmest appreciation that we write today, as you make some good points on 4E. We certainly expected that our idea for Dinner With 7 Strangers would be met with questions. In fact, we’d be more worried had it not. For who are we to call ourselves Hoyas if we do not question the unknown? Great ideas at Georgetown are a dime a dozen. Unfortunately, stupid ideas are about a nickel a dozen.
The premise of DW7S is, indeed, to share both food and food for thought with seven “strangers.” It’s possible that dinner may include an “awkward acquaintance, person you semi-know, or person you never want to see again.” (If you’ve enjoyed your Georgetown experience thus far, we hope you don’t have a long list of the latter.) But if it assuages your fears, we can offer the following: Your odds of dining with such unsavory people are roughly the same as you dining with Bradley Cooper. Because most Hoyas are roughly four degrees of separation away from dear Mr. Cooper, it’s no surprise that you may know someone who is a present part of the Georgetown community. So you’re correct in assuming that you may accidentally know some of these “strangers,” despite our best efforts. Weigh your odds, and may they be ever in your favor. It is, as we say, the nature of the beast.
In his inaugural address “Engaging the Tensions, Living the Questions,” President DeGioia identified Georgetown as a heart of culture with a soul full of tensions. Addressing and learning about that which makes us profoundly uncomfortable stands at the foundation of a Jesuit education. These tensions visibly bubble to the surface in light of classes like the Problem of God, in reaction to events like Ferguson, and in dialogue about privilege in all forms. However, plot twist: these tensions are also omnipresent in our daily lives. Indeed, we’re no longer all freshmen, but we do understand your concerns. We would, however, invite you to consider a few things.
For the person’s name you can’t remember, we invite you to ask. That may very well be the point of these dinners--to learn about someone beyond the facade of Facebook stalking. For that Brownhouse boy/girl with whom you’ve had relations, take a deep breath. Getting to know someone beyond the DFMO context is quite refreshing. For that professor, smile and relax. Professors are humans and Hoyas too. They relish the chance to get to know students beyond the blackboard. And hey, Comic Sans probably added humor to a stack of otherwise Times New Roman papers anyway.
For your old freshman roommate, know that one dinner is far different than yearlong cohabitation. Celebrate the past...and also the fact that you don’t have to do it again. Thank your present roommate for not sucking. For the GERMS workers, thank them for volunteering. They don’t hear it enough. Especially because vomiting and “thank you”s tend to be mutually exclusive. For your future husband/wife, embrace it. Tell the story at your wedding. (And don’t forget to invite us.) It’s a better story than Tinder, anyway. For Bradley Cooper, we’re rooting for you. Good luck!
The truth is, Dinner With 7 Strangers is not a perfect recipe. But we kindly contend that it isn’t a recipe for disaster either. As President DeGioia pointed out, reconciling the nature of our culture inevitably gives rise to tensions. It’s easy to cling to safety and certainty—to what we know and not what we fear. This letter serves as a reminder that we didn’t come to Georgetown to stay within the confines of our comfort zone. To engage in the inherent tensions of Georgetown is to truly experience what it means to be a Hoya. That means confronting the embarrassing, the inconvenient, and the awkward. That means understanding that we’re cut from the same fabric—not a cut above or below one another. That means getting to know those who aren’t like you rather than those who are. And sometimes, that means simply daring to signup and have a conversation over Dinner With 7 Strangers.
Because really, who are we to call ourselves Hoyas if we fear the unknown?
Dinner With 7 Strangers