A Recipe for Delicious Conversation

I've been thinking about the phrase 'food for thought'. It works. There really is something tangible and healthy in the mental nourishment…


I've been thinking about the phrase 'food for thought'. It works. There really is something tangible and healthy in the mental nourishment ideas and insights offer.

And yet, good conversations are rare. The greater our technical connections, the more isolated we've become. We're polarized like never before and seem to send and receive just random sound bites of thought. Opportunities for meaningful and deeper exchange are hard to find.

Enter Share the Cheer. It's a program that delivers delicious conversations and connections to your dining room table.

The premise is simple.

Many U of A international students can't make it home for the holidays. Share the Cheer links dinner hosts to students interested in a home-cooked meal and insights on Canadian customs.

Quite literally it's an exchange of food… for an evening of thought and banter. And, like the phrase, the program works.

The University of Alberta attracts some of the best and the brightest students from around the world to study, conduct research and work here in Edmonton and Alberta. The fact that these students have chosen to study here qualifies them as exceptional. They are risk takers and explorers. They're here to try something new, to stretch themselves. They are curious. Most come with clear purpose. They are interesting people with stories to share.

International students contribute a great deal while they're here. Their enthusiasm, insight and knowledge enriches our campus, enhances the learning experience of our domestic students and strengthens our connections to the world.

We've hosted students away from home for the first time and amazed by our four seasons, as well as graduate students here to work alongside senior researchers doing remarkable things. The event is special for everyone. One student was so excited he borrowed a tux for the evening. One excitedly documented the evening taking photos he immediately sent back home to his Mom in India - sharing the experience and honouring us in the process.

The students we've hosted have been open. They've shared tender moments, funny stories, a few fears and worries, and some points of pride. They listen and they question and at the end, we all wonder at how the time has passed so quickly.

We see ourselves through their eyes - what we offer as a country, a city and a university. What they considered in choosing to come here. What's surprised them. What they hope to experience. Where they plan to go, and what they plan to do next. We share stories about culture, celebration and tradition. And of course, we talk about the world, where it's going, and the roles each of us might play.

Share the Cheer brings the world home. It's become a highlight in our holiday tradition and an experience we frequently revisit and appreciate.

It's easy. it's fun. And, it is always enlightening. Give some thought to sharing your cheer… you might find the conversation not only delicious but, like us, a bit addictive.

Learn more about Share the Cheer.

Mary Pat Barry

About Mary

Mary Pat, a senior communications professional, has been actively involved with the University of Alberta in various capacities through the years. Currently she's a member of the Board of Governors (2017/20), Chair of the Board Reputation & Public Affairs Committee and co-chair of the Board Learning and Discovery Committee. She served as President of the Alumni Association from 2015 to 2017 and was a member of Senate from 2015 to 2018.