By Michelle Nosratian
A Thanksgiving dinner in London reunited Harvard School alumni with former English foreign exchange students at event organized by the English Speaking Union, the organization that facilitated the exchange program between Harvard and various English private schools.
The ESU also invited any Harvard, Westlake, or Harvard-Westlake alumni currently living in Great Britain, regardless of whether they participated in the exchange program.Communications officer Beth Stokes said that an anonymous donor paid for the event. The reunion took place at Dartmouth House, a nineteenth century mansion in central London that is the ESU’s headquarters.
“It was a wonderfully elegant setting for some 60 wonderfully elegant people,” attendee Rod Chamberlain said.
President of School Thomas C. Hudnut and his wife Deedie also attended the reunion.
“I found out that Martin Skan ’54 [the first exchange student to graduate from Harvard] was planning to have this reunion of Harvard and Westlake exchange students and he was planning an American style Thanksgiving dinner in London, so the next thing you know, I was going to be speaking there and was the guest of honor,” Hudnut said.
In his speech, which followed a champagne reception and a welcome speech by Skan, Hudnut brought the alumni up to date on what has happened at the school, including the history of the merger .
Stokes and the Advancement office staff sent over old pictures of Harvard and Westlake, as well as a slideshow of pictures of middle school construction with captions.
“We also sent over some Chronicles, Life magazines, and a couple of other publications for people to peruse,” she said.
Hudnut said that 20 exchange students out of 36 came, and there were about 60 people total in attendance.
Chamberlain said that popular discussion topics were “good or bad luck stories about girls…our most or least favourite teachers, how we spent the weekend… how the experience changed our lives [and] when we were last back and what that felt like.”
“I was inundated with people after the dinner saying ‘can we get this going again, can we get this exchange program started at Harvard-Westlake again’,” he said.