Reunions offer a chance to understand more about yourself and how you arrived at where you are today
By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
“I’ve gained too much weight.”
“I don’t know anyone anymore.”
“I’m not married.”
“We’ve all grown apart.”
Do you have another reason to not attend your class reunion?
According to www.grouptravel.org, only 20 to 30 percent of any graduating class attends a reunion. But you have plenty of reasons to consider it.
“Maybe it’s an opportunity to share what you’ve done professionally or personally over the years — or brag about your grandkids,” said Kasha Godleski, director of alumni and parent engagement at Le Moyne College.
She said the school runs reunions from one year up to 50-plus year anniversaries — even the 65th.
Though the cliched reason for attending is finding “the one that got away” for some, Goldleski said that nostalgia “is about remembering the past and looking forward to the future.”
Seen through the lens of maturity, your recollections may help you understand more about yourself and how you arrived at where you are today. Looking at former classmates as adults and not as adolescents brings a more understanding perspective.
“They’re so excited to come back and see people,” Godleski said of attendees. “They don’t want to see this opportunity pass. Some may have worries about not looking right or having the successes they’d hoped, but those who come have plans, just talk about their time at Le Moyne.”
Alumni can also check out what’s going on at their alma mater, if the event is hosted on campus. At Le Moyne, many events are planned to help alumni get a better idea of what’s going on at the school.
The same holds true at Syracuse University. Kate Ludwig, assistant director, affinity programs in SU’s office of alumni engagement, said that the school plans many family-oriented activities for alumni events.
“I encourage people to look at the schedule for reunions and see what activities are unique to their universities,” Ludwig said. “It’s definitely wonderful to come back to campus and interact. Some people may not have been back to campus for 50 years. They can bring back their kids and grandkids and share the campus they were a part of.”
Former students can also see parts of the campus to which they never had access as students, such as the tour of the Crouse chimes, part of the Orange Central Reunion and Homecoming Weekend.
“Normally, only chimes masters see the inside of the tower, so this is a special opportunity for alumni during their reunion weekend,” Ludwig said.
She said that while reconnecting with former classmates is important for most attending, some even make friends with classmates they didn’t know while in school. Though attending with a “security blanket” friend may help, Ludwig encourages people to reach out and meet new people.
Stepping outside your normal social circles can be stressful, especially if former classmates ask about touchy subjects.
For any questions that cause embarrassment, turn the questions back on the asker with the classic, “Why do you ask?”
To keep conversation running — and pleasant — use broad, open-ended questions instead of those that can be answered by “yes” or “no,” such as, “What is best about your life now?” instead of, “Are you happy with your job?” Or, “What do you enjoy doing?” instead of, “Are you married?”
It’s also important to approach reunions with a healthy dose of perspective. Others attending may feel nervous and compensate with bragging. Extend a little understanding and a touch of self-deprecation and others will likely follow suit.