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Hospitality dinner aids student-faculty discussion

Simmons Great Hall was filled with students, faculty, staff and great conversation on Monday night.

This year, ResLife partnered with the Honors program to create a time where conversation could flow and a topic not typically talked about could be addressed.

The topic of the night? Hospitality.

The idea of hospitality connects with the theme of the freshman summer reading program, “Who is my Neighbor.”

Hospitality was chosen as a theme in an effort to find a topic that relates to a wide variety of people.

“There is a misconception of what it means to be hospitable in college, and we wanted to shatter that,” said Maria Lehr, honors adviser. “Everyone needs to practice hospitality, and that means really knowing, recognizing and valuing the people you interact with.”

Students sat at tables separated by the halls or suites they live in on campus with faculty and staff member spread throughout.

“Faculty- student interaction is key to student success,” Lehr said. “We realized that hospitality is for all members of our community, so it was good to have faculty and staff members there to be a part of the conversation.”

The formatting was conversation-based, with discussion questions and topics rolling through on slides on the projector screens.

The idea was to create a space for learning, without having one speaker talk throughout the night.

“We wanted to drive content without a straight lecture,” Lehr said. “So having slides to guide each table helped the conversation flow. There was no designated facilitator at the tables.”

Conversations varied from table to table, but the topics ranged from what it means to be hospitable in a college or dorm setting, to how students, themselves have felt hospitality in their own experience.

For senior Andrea Good, the topic of hospitality seems very relevant to the lives of college students.

“We are all living together and doing life together. We’re in each other’s space and breathing each other’s air. This is where hospitality is important,” Good said. “It doesn’t do as much good to invite people into a physical space when they’re already there.”

Good added that the hospitality dinner was a good way for students to think about different ways to care for those around them and focus on being more intentional with their time.

“Hospitality is less about opening up your home and is more about opening up yourself to others,” she said. “It is letting people come into more than just your front door.”