On Saturday evening I had the pleasure of attending the St. John’s College 10th anniversary gala BBQ / welcome dinner. SJC is of course my beloved former graduate residence.
Before the dinner, I participated in an afternoon panel discussion entitled, “From SJC to the Real World“. The discussion was led by everyone’s favourite weatherman, Ian, who is a good friend of the College. The panel was somewhat poorly attended by the current residents but that’s not really a big departure from when I lived there.
Now having participated in the panel really screwed up my perception of what I was going to wear to the dinner. I certainly wasn’t going to wear a suit to the panel. Keep in mind also that the dinner was going to be advertised as a BBQ. With that in mind, I wore some denim pants, some of you call these “jeans” and a very nice short-sleeve shirt. Just in case, it got cold, I also brought along a classy black hoodie with the skate. logo emblazoned along one sleeve. I did not bring a change of clothes which might have been a poor decision.
After the panel was done, we had lots of time to kill so Dana L. and myself played two games of croquet. It was really great to see Dana again. I miss a lot of people from SJC but he is certainly one of the best. Anyways, Dana kicked my ass twice. Even though I lost both games, I could still feel the magic. Plus, I kept looking over my shoulder because I swore Bryan was there.
For the dinner, they had a huge tent setup in the courtyard. Inside there was a small stage and podium. I believe there were over 20 tables and some nice decorations. It really reminded me of an outdoor wedding reception.
So anyways, from 6pm on people started arriving for the dinner. The guests included current residents, alumni, UBC staff and faculty, and original Johanneans. So everyone is arriving all dressed up and Dana and myself are looking like bums now. Dana is wearing this Hawaiian-like shirt and jeans, so he’s in the same boat as I am. The only saving grace was that Amber brought some sorta squirrel cosplay costume and was running around entertaining people. For the record, she attended the actual dinner in normal clothes.
The dinner itself was quite nice. There were some great speeches by acting SJC Principal Henry Yu, UBC President Stephen Toope, and a graduate from the original SJC in Shanghai. The evening was hosted by Stephen H. which was a bit of a surprise. When I met this kid three years ago he was a pretty shy chemistry student. “Hyberbole” as Joel called him, sure has changed. He did a bang-up job hosting and was actually quite funny. There were also a lot of alumni there, mostly from 2002 and on. Off the top of my head, there was Dana, Ian, Joel H, Donna, Emre, Rubab, Aliye, Carly, Frank, and probably someone I left out. As well, I did meet a few alumni that I did not know beforehand.
The food was awesome of course. Clarence had a wonderful spread of salmon steaks, skewers of every kind of meat, exotic sausages, seafood, several salads, and more food than my brain can recall. For dessert there were selections of fresh fruit (way above fruit plate quality I have to add), small pastries, and pieces of a large and tasty 10th anniversary cake. All during the meal, we were waited on by David and his staff.
As I sat with old friends and had this wonderful meal, I realized how much I missed the formal dinners. There are a lot of good things about SJC and the formal dinners are probably in the top three. I was lucky enough to realize before I left how special those dinners are at SJC.
With the dinner over and dessert eaten, I mingled among the tables. I talked to people that I still know there (a small number) and got introduced to some new residents. Then it was time for the social lounge “dance party” which seems to have taken over as the new post-dinner tradition. No one seems to go to Koerner’s anymore though Shawn and Frank sure wanted to go.
The “dance party” seemed to have some old ghosts because it was nothing but salsa for the short time I was there. Dana invited all of us alumni to his room for a private party. That is where I hung out for most of the evening. Because I was with old people, everyone went home pretty early. I went back to the social lounge for a bit and said goodbye to some people and I went home myself.
I really enjoyed the evening and am glad I got to be part of the festivities. Dana took some pictures which I hope I can put up on this site in a few days.