Dora Guo

Say what you will about the quality of JE food, but over the course of four years, the dining hall has been the center stage of my college experience. 

It’s where a kernel of first years sitting at a table multiplied from two into four into eight into even more until you needed to squish chairs and combine tables to make sure that no one was left out. It’s where those overflowing tables shrank over the years as people found their niches and different communities throughout campus. Yet it’s also where, this year, we rekindled those old friendships and actually caught up over a meal before it was too late. It’s where everyone knew that if you wanted to be social, you would sit on the right side, and if you needed some quiet alone time, you would sit on the left side. It’s where we gossiped if two people were sitting alone and had a budding romance. It’s where I reveled in hearing about the ambitious projects and original ideas that my classmates were passionate about, from Jax’s invitations to experimental theater in places it should not be, to Veronica’s samples of jokes being workshopped for stand-up, and even to Fatih’s aspirations of market arbitrage (for good, he swears).

It’s where I would begin each day with a bowl of yogurt and the YDN crossword, and it’s where I would end my day being lovingly swept out by Connie or Teresa to bring my plates up after a dinner conversation ran too long. 

It’s where we groggily chewed our brunch multigrain pancakes after a rowdy Saturday night like pajama-wearing zombies. It’s where I occasionally had eureka moments on my physics problem sets, but more likely struggled late into the night sitting under one of the four lamps in the unnecessarily dark, cavernous hall. It’s where birthday celebrations would cause the entire room to sing along, even when blissfully ignorant for whom they were actually cheering. 

It’s where, once the dining hall staff had cleaned up and left for the night, you could yank open the door furthest to the right since it never entirely shut, plug your phone into the speakers, and just dance like there was no tomorrow. It’s where, when we were worn out from frolicking, we could lie on our backs and pretend that we were stretched under a canopy of stars. It’s where the shadows of that night lingered when I returned to eat the next day.

I began Yale hungering to learn and knowing no one. Most of my growth did not happen in dorm rooms or in classrooms. The dining hall, core to the JE residential college community, is where I carved indelible memories. It’s where I could walk in alone and be sure that I would leave with friends. For me, it is not just the physical JE dining hall, but the people and the experiences that I shared within its walls that have made my time at Yale so impactful. 

Kazemi Adachi |