On Friday, April 14th, 2023, Merrimack College held its first-ever Breaking Bread event. A large event where many members of students, faculty, and staff had the opportunity to sit down and share a meal together along with conversation around the dinner table. I was fortunate to be able to attend this event and engage in deep and meaningful conversations with those at my table while enjoying excellent food. Here I will be sharing not only my experience but gathering the perspective of others who attended the event to recap it and explain why more events of this nature should happen in the future.
As for my experience, this was truly a wonderful event for a multitude of reasons. First, it was a great way for members of the Merrimack College community to come together. There were a number of students, faculty, and staff with President Hopey himself sitting down at a table with Nicholas Barber, Merrimack College’s Student Government Association President for the 2022-2023 academic year. The goal of this event was to have conversations around the dinner table, as those conversations are very fruitful, and have a great purpose when talking with others whom one may not know. It provides an opportunity to learn more about those a meal is being shared with, as well as one’s self, and the event was very successful in that regard. Bryan Costa, Merrimack Class of 2025, gave a comment on what the event accomplished:
We were able to get faculty, staff, and students together and discuss topics that impact Merrimack and those part of the community.– Bryan Costa, Merrimack Class of 2025
As for the food, it was terrific. Food from all over the world was served. Latin, Japanese, Italian, Portuguese, American, Cuban, Polynesian, and French cuisine was available for all guests as they engaged with their table in an open conversation guided by questions that were posed before each course was brought out.
From discussing where everyone came from, the beliefs they have, and even the traits they would bestow upon others, I learned a lot about myself and those I was with. While I will not get into great detail about the conversations, I will say that it was an opportunity for reflection on myself, my values, and the experiences that have helped me grow as a person. Although we are not all at the same age or have the same amount of life experience, we can all learn something from each other, and that was the real benefit of the night, learning from each other and seeing that we may not be as different as we may think.
Peter Rojas, one of the lead organizers and a speaker at the event articulated the importance of having these, sometimes uncomfortable, conversations in his speech at the conclusion of the event:
Please take a moment and turn to the person next to you and acknowledge their presence. Show your appreciation because it takes a lot to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. At the dinner table, I learned from my mother the true meaning of grace. Not all of us are at the same level of education or lived experience when it comes to learning the intersectionality of our identities… Lastly, we are all in this together, a concept my older brothers have bestowed on me anytime things got rough. You are never alone in this journey of life. So I leave you with three takeaways. Be grateful, show grace, and together we will go further.– Peter Rojas at Breaking Bread 2023
This event was a success, as it brought together many individuals from different groups within Merrimack College together. I look forward to more events of this nature in the future, as the opportunity to learn from others, and share personal experiences and life lessons is something all members of the Merrimack Community should be able to experience. From the number of people I talked to, they grew closer to the people they shared dinner with, regardless of whether they knew them before the night began.