Help Available for Overseas Program Reunions
December 12, 2005
“We owe the College a great deal for helping us with the best reunion of our lives,” says Frances Hart ’76, one of 26 students who participated in Lewis & Clark’s first overseas study program to Peru in 1973.
This past summer, Lewis & Clark hosted a reunion for the Peru study program, as well as one for the 1984 Kenya trip. Hart planned her group’s reunion with travelers Wendy Woodrich ’75, the College’s senior lecturer in foreign languages and Spanish curriculum director, and Sally Garrigues ’75. They received help from John Enders ’75 and the program leader, Vance Savage, professor emeritus of Spanish and former director of overseas and off-campus programs.
A. Caty Brown ’85, who organized the Kenya reunion with William “Bill” Butcher ’84, says their event was easy to pull off. “The alumni office helped tremendously. We’re all running homes and lives, and the office made this event very easy to put together. I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.”
Alumni and Parent Programs managed reunion invitations, orchestrated on-campus dinners, and set up Web sites to let people know who was planning to attend. Brown says this left her and Butcher able to focus on connecting with program participants and managing financial matters. They printed commemorative T-shirts and served as a sounding board for what their group wanted. They decided on a family-friendly weekend of events: a Friday dinner at Portland’s Buffalo Gap restaurant, a Saturday family barbecue at the College’s outdoor swimming pool and adults-only dinner at Smith Hall, and an impromptu Sunday breakfast.
Brown and Butcher were rewarded for their efforts with an exceptional turnout—all but two of the program’s 21 participants attended. Also in attendance were both program leaders, Dell Smith, retired professor and former College registrar, and his wife, Helen. While the majority of the program participants had not kept in touch with each other, they had kept in contact with the Smiths, who helped Brown locate her former classmates. “The Smiths’ participation in the reunion gave people a drive to come back to campus,” Brown says.
Unlike the Kenya alumni, several groups of the Peru travelers have remained close, with some holding a small 10-year reunion. Frances Hart was determined to bring everyone together, and the reunion planners managed to locate all but one participant. “Our group members arrived from Alaska, Idaho, Washington, Colorado, Connecticut, California, and even Belgium. I enjoyed hunting for lost members, some of whom had disappeared since the ’70s and required months of detective work to locate,” she says. Her group’s reunion involved a Saturday dinner featuring Peruvian specialties and a Sunday breakfast.
The highlight of both reunions was the Saturday on-campus dinner. With the reunions’ organizers, Liz Fisher, senior associate director of alumni and parent programs, gathered alumni photos from the study programs. These served as centerpieces and as a slide show that each participant received on disk as a souvenir.
“After dinner you could have heard a pin drop as group members shared their stories,” Hart says. “As Lisa Moorehead ’76 put it, ‘Did a trip to Peru in the ’70s naturally attract an exceptionally curious, intelligent, adventurous, funny subset of the population, or did the experience we shared shape us to become interesting adults? Some of both, I suppose.’ “
Both affinity groups plan to have future reunions. Hart says her group hopes to meet next in Peru. Brown says the Kenya group will likely gather off campus as well. “We lived in the bush together and are all pretty outdoorsy,” she says. “Perhaps next time we’ll do a beach trip.”