By Lori Nelson
We are in the middle of this fall’s reunion planning cycle and it occurred to me that while I really want alumni to attend their reunions I hadn’t really thought through why. It was the “why” that caught my attention.
I know, for my own reunion last year, I was very excited to see my classmates but it was also awkward. Many of these were people I hadn’t seen since law school and with whom I have not maintained an ongoing connection. Others are permanent friends I know I can turn to anytime. So, what was I seeking from my reunion?
As I reflected on that question I realized that what I was seeking was a connection with those that had gone through the same experience with me. We had all survived it together and become better people because of our mutual experience. We learned from one another, we competed with one another, and we discovered what kind of people we wanted to be. It is that sense of shared experience and belonging that I sought. And that sense of belonging to something bigger than myself is something I regained at my reunion. I greatly missed those that didn’t attend. I was so gratified to see those that did, even though we haven’t maintained a consistent relationship. It was wonderful to reconnect and feel the renewal of that association.
As I have watched the other classes have their reunions I am similarly struck by the joy the class members experience at seeing one another. I can frequently hear the shouts of happiness down the hall as another member of the class enters a crowded room and is recognized by their classmates and friends.
This same sense of reconnecting is felt each time I meet with another classmate, even outside our reunions. It still somehow feels, despite the wrinkles and grey hair, that we only left law school yesterday. That connection and bond still exists even without the ongoing contact. But the reunions offer something bigger, something different in the expansive experience of a group. It is that experience I want each alum to have the opportunity of enjoying at their reunion.
Please try to attend. I know it will be a pleasure for you and I know you will appreciate the sense of belonging and community you get from seeing again those with whom you went through the pain, joys and growth of law school.