One of the most rewarding aspects of my Middlebury experience has been my involvement within Cook Commons, one of the five residential neighborhoods on campus within our Commons system. Through Cook, I’ve met some of my best friends, cultivated lasting relationships with professors and staff, and attended some of the most fun and memorable social events during the past four years at Middlebury (notably, the annual Foam party and Cook Prom). Yet, as if all of those fun things weren’t enough, the entire Commons community occasionally gathers to eat dinner all together in Atwater dining hall, in something known as a Commons Dinner. Each Commons hosts these dinners, in which all students within the Commons are invited, along with the faculty and staff members who work within that commons or are affiliated with it. Besides offering a chance to enjoy the delicious Atwater fare, Commons dinners become an opportunity, at least for me, to share a meal with some of my most favorite people and closest friends on this campus, students and adults alike. Plus, it’s always fun to feel like you have “special” plans for dinner.
Many people like to compare the Commons system at Middlebury to the houses in Harry Potter, and everyone thinks that their own commons is Gryffindor. In reality, our school is not so similar to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, yet I still think of Commons Dinners as a little bit like the big banquets in Harry Potter, where everyone sits by their house. For some people like me, the commons are a source of pride and identification on campus and have served as a way for me to develop many meaningful relationships. Commons dinners in Atwater offer the chance to sit down and share a meal with faces you might recognize from freshman year, a professor who you might have had in class somewhere along the way, or in my case, to have dinner with my current suite-mates, all of whom I met while living in Battell, in Cook Commons, nearly four years ago.