“One of the best decisions we made and always tell others is choosing to live in Harvard Housing, with the added bonus of being a part of the Graduate Commons Program. We have attended a number of events ranging from felting, movie screenings, massage classes to meeting Harvard scholars. I’d say the best part is really getting to know your neighbors from the different schools, who we would never have met otherwise. As a spouse of a grad student in HKS, the GCP has helped me build on different skills and make lasting friendships that I will truly miss once we leave.”– Resident Bernice Dy
“10,515 miles. That’s the distance between Boston and Melbourne, Australia, where I come from. While it was exciting for me to make this move to support my husband in his studies, it was a long, long way from home. We were on our own, far away from everyone and everything I knew. At the start of our time in Boston, I didn’t know my place in the Harvard community, as I wasn’t the one who was enrolled as a student. I thought of myself as being “just a spouse”. I asked myself, time and again, how I was going to survive two years of being here.
So, I began my journey of fitting into the Harvard community. Lucky for me, I was connected to the Graduate Commons Program. I made an effort to attend GCP events regularly. Seeing familiar faces week after week and knowing people’s names in my neighborhood made a difference to my sense of belonging. I also got connected to the Harvard Kennedy School by auditing classes and working on a student project there; but at the GCP events, I met students (and their family members) from other schools as well.
Being part of the GCP was a lifesaver. I could always count on the program for fun social activities, rather than having to organize them myself. There was a great variety of events to choose from—monthly happy hour and wine nights, painting and cooking classes, “meet the scholar” dinners and talks, trips to museums and cultural activities, and the list goes on. I got to know the Faculty Directors at both Akron and Cowperthwaite buildings, and felt welcomed in their homes.
During our first winter here, we found out that we could borrow board games from the GCP. We decided to organize our first informal games night and invited a few friends and neighbors to come along. We had so much fun doing that, we decided to ask the GCP Coordinator if we could make our games night part of the GCP events. She was thrilled about our idea, and since then we have been organizing a monthly games night (continuously for a year and a half). We are so grateful to GCP for making us feel at home and for letting us host games night every month. We are very sad to be leaving this community soon, as it has indeed become our home.” –Resident Lainey Weiss
“This year is my second year of living at Peabody Terrace (PT) and I have enjoyed every moment of it! I had the privilege of participating in the wide variety of programs offered by GCP during my first year, and the pleasure of working with the GCP team at Peabody Terrace as a Community Adviser during my second year. Both experiences gave me the opportunity to encounter people from different programs and countries from all around the world. There have been many great moments to reflect upon. But, the most outstanding has been moments shared with fellow Community Advisers who are passionate about creating wonderful experiences for the students the serve.” –Resident Florence Dennis
“What does Cambridge mean to me? If asked this question in my first few months here, I would have coldly answered that it meant Harvard, studies and some old world buildings. Not at all a fair comment on a place that had tried to embrace me with the best she had to offer in those beautiful summer and fall months. Sunny weather, calming breeze, shimmering Charles river, beautiful sunsets and a sensual liveliness all around. Yet, I found myself shrugging off the embrace and trying to stay aloof. I was missing home and Cambridge’s charms hardly enticed me.
Seasons changed in quick successions thereafter (though the winter did last forever) and as I stand again at the threshold of summer, this blog post has inspired me to repeat the question. What does Cambridge mean to me? Today Cambridge means home to me where I have found intellectual drive and easy companionship at each turn, every day.
If I am to cite the one thing that helped me find my feet in this community and help me truly call it home, it has to be the Graduate Commons Program. The GCP program helped the likes of us struggling to find their moorings in a new place by regularly organizing innovative programs, bringing together people from across the Harvard community and helping us discover interesting things about each other. Some of my best memories of this community involve the weekend group outings organized by GCP where we visited museums and chocolate factories, volunteered in community activities, had truckloads of fun at the regatta or took ballroom dancing lessons all the while learning more about our partners and feeling truly part of a community.
I often refer to the GCP as a speed dating service that brings together people who may otherwise would have taken forever to meet. The GCP events across the year have catered to our varied interests helped us relax over great food and build great relationships. GCP owes its success not only to its members but also to its coordinators who have brought incredible passion into their work each day to ensure that the residents have an incredible experience. I have felt truly thankful to be part of this community that GCP has helped create for us and hope that many more of us will find knowledge, friendship and fun through the program.” –Resident Nayana RenuKumar
“There are a few memories that stand out for me: I was passing around a tiny golden crown at the Winter Ball, and got pictures of people being “crowned” in their formal wear. It was adorable. There was also the trip to see the Donkey Show at Oberon, where I was pulled up to dance with the go-go faerie boys and started out petrified…then threw myself into it to cheers from the crowd. Finally, the “after-parties” that follow GCP events that usually involve new friends who want to keep the party going at their place, with late-night card games, and conversations that feel like I’m reliving my university dorm experience…which feels amazing.” –Resident Elissa Badique