This weekend we invited Reedies in New York City to join us a for a drink to celebrate the Reed Switchboard and all of its awesomeness. I wasn’t sure how many people would come to a Saturday evening gathering in NYC, where there are always a million things competing for one’s attention, but Saturday’s event turned out to be a complete success. The circle continued to widen as one by one Reedies found their way to the back room. At final count, we had taken up all the available seats. Switchboard grabbed the first round of drinks and the evening gave way to easy conversation while the DJ played, by happy coincidence, everyone’s favorite 90’s hits.
Among the attendees were writers, world travelers, activists, contra dancers, german speakers, new grads, co-opers, trivia masters, international students, community organizers, and many more. From the eldest to the youngest, our graduation dates spanned more than 20 years. Like any good gathering, the circle was constantly shifting into new configurations of people and conversations. “At one point I was overwhelmed but in the best way” said Vlad ‘14, a recent international alumnus looking for art history work in the city.
Vlad was one of handful of recent grads who came to celebrate and also to commiserate. There was a lot of talk about Reed experiences, the joys of being finished, and what to do next. One ‘14 alumna shared her post-grad anxiety, “I just graduated and I have no idea what I want to do except not go back to school, and I wish Reed would hold my hand.” Reed Switchboard is exactly that hand, bringing together Reedies across generations to help each other explore their many interests through conversation and connection. If this gathering was a sort of dinner party for 13, then Reed Switchboard is a dinner party for 3500 and counting.
Over the course of the night, we dreamed up all sorts of exciting ways to use Reed Switchboard, including: finding a new trivia team, exploring options other than grad school, applying an art history degree in the “real world,” throwing a potluck, sharing a couch, teaching an obscure programing language, or finding a roommate.
All it takes is a simple ask or offer to continue the evening’s conversations, as one ‘13 alumna hoped we would. “I think it’s good for New York alumni to have a casual way to connect that’s not an official alumni association thing, a little more relaxed,” another recent grad shared. As a complement to more directed activities, it’s those kinds of “unofficial” interactions that can lead to relationships that can lead to friendship, mentorship, connection, and ultimately, to a stronger community.
That wraps up our official Reed gatherings for the Switchboard Hearts tour. It’s been incredible meeting so many passionate, intelligent and generous Reedies over the course of our travels. We are lucky to have so many enthusiastic and thoughtful supporters, from our early days as a grassroots project, to the present as a thriving community-place, and into the future. Here’s to you. We couldn’t do it without you!
Next up, we’re hosting a happy hour for the Oberlin alumni community in New York that promises to be epic. Stay tuned.