Faculty Dinner Talking Points

By Shunella Grace Lumas

For some people, faculty dinners are an amazing event, an evening where you reconnect with a professor that also happens to be your research partner and best friend for life. In between spoonfuls of apple crisp, the two of you fall deep into conversation about cell biology and the readings you’ve been doing for fun, outside of class. Unfortunately, most are not section kid or section kid’s arch-nemesis, and our professors are not our closest friends. So how does one navigate a conversation about that statistics class for which you’ve never attended lecture? How do you display intellectual curiosity when you can’t remember the last time you did assigned readings, much less picked up a book featured in the New York Times? Never fear, for Flyby has you covered:

Talk about the weather

Despite whatever you may be thinking about the lack of creativity involved in discussing the weather, Boston’s winter as a talking point can be pretty clutch. From California? Talk about how brutal the transition has been for you, how your cute Patagonia puffy didn’t even last you until November, and how February should not exist as a month. If you’re from the East Coast, talk about how you thought you knew what you were in for, but how needing to walk in the snow has really changed the whole “winter” game. From the Midwest? Talk about how everyone is weak relative to what you’ve experienced back home. People love complaining about the weather– this should give you a solid five minutes of conversation, and can be a lead-in to the topic of where you’re from. You’ll be the closest of friends in no time!

Bond about “just Harvard things”

There are a couple basic topics everyone at Harvard should be able to say a little bit about– house life, renovations, freshman year, your excitement about Dean Khurana’s Instagram, the tourists, what you like to spend your BoardPlus on, your opinion about the aesthetic purpose of the rock garden in the Science Center plaza...the list goes on and on. Vague references to different aspects of Harvard life that your professor can relate to can help create a sense of *connection*.

Buddy up with a friend

This isn’t necessarily a “talking point,” but being able to lean on someone your own age when you realize that you’ve been attempting to discuss a world issue that you do not at all understand can really ease those awkward situations.

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