During this late harvest and holiday season, we post an article from one of our member schools, Cardigan Mountain School. Friendships, cultural understanding happen everyday during time spent at meals and over food in the school’s dining hall.
Breaking Bread…and Building Bonds of Brotherhood
Just about every Cardigan graduate remembers the first dining hall table to which he was assigned—and likely the faculty member who had been in charge of it. And sometimes the other students at that first table will be unforgettable as well, as unique friendships occasionally evolve from an assigned table situation. Such was the case just last week, with three boys hailing from three different countries and representing three different grades forming a pretty special bond over their meals.
Every dining hall table plays host to a variety of boys each week. Seats are assigned, one week at a time, and each group reflects a range of ages and grades, as well as a range of places and cultures from which they are coming. While two of the three students had met during soccer tryouts, when they collaborated for (and celebrated together) the lone goal in an otherwise lopsided scrimmage, both boys became familiar with the third boy (a rock climber) simply by being assigned to his same table and striking up a conversation.
These boys represent a multitude of differences, to be sure—one prominent example being their differing tastes in music and musicians (or performing artists). But what everyone noticed immediately was how genuinely interested they were in one another’s experiences and tastes—how curious they were about and how respectfully they listened to one another’s opinions; there was a noticeably positive and accepting spirit about each as they engaged in learning about one another’s “likes” and “dislikes.”
And to be sure, the similarities among them far outweigh the differences, as is often the case, though sometimes not immediately obvious. These boys all enjoy food and laughter—their similar senses of humor were immediately apparent when our interview began. They share a willingness to lend one another a hand and a love of swapping stories (tales of most-embarrassing moments among them). They also share a sense of silliness and…well…the tendency to be running a tad late; by the same token, it was their shared instinct to “pitch in” that allowed mealtimes to run smoothly regardless, because when one was late, the others jumped in to help.
A Celebration of…the Harvest, the Season (Autumn), and the Moon!
The moon could not have appeared more full than it did the last couple of nights, and, relatedly, a feeling of celebration was prevalent in the dining hall yesterday at both breakfast and lunch. Another Global Community theme became our focus: harvest festivals around the globe, and on this date, specifically, both Mid-Autumn Festival (as celebrated in China, Taiwan, and Vietnam) and Chuseok (as celebrated in Korea). Both are often celebrated close to what we know here as the autumnal equinox
As our Global Community Initiative leaders explained, most autumn or harvest festivals recognize an appreciation of and gratitude for our connection to the earth, the food, the people in our lives, and the cycles of the moon. In terms of how they are celebrated, they can be likened a bit to our American Thanksgiving.
At the end of breakfast, a few courageous students spoke about Mid-Autumn Festival and their own relevant family traditions (the gathering of family and the eating of moon cakes seemed a prevalent theme!). At the end of lunch, two students offered their reflections on the Korean holiday Chuseok, which, in addition to gathering with family members and celebrating a good harvest through the eating of traditional foods, includes acknowledging ancestors and sometimes visiting ancestral hometowns. Here’s to autumn, to the moon, to Earth and her bountiful harvest…and to everyone!