After a semesterlong hiatus to restructure its ability to meet high demand for its dinners from the Georgetown community, Dinner with Seven Strangers will resume later this semester.
Since DW7S’s inception in the spring of 2015, more than 1,000 people have participated in the initiative, which organizes dinners between strangers at the homes of volunteer hosts.
Founder Lexi Cotcamp (MSB ’15) said she created DW7S to provide a place on campus where students could interact with peers they might not have otherwise encountered at Georgetown.
“DW7S is the opportunity to share a meal, consider what cura personalis really means and reflect on the Georgetown experience,” Cotcamp wrote in an email to The Hoya. “It’s the chance to meet new friends & mentors; take five; and appreciate the magic of a communal experience.”
During the first six weeks of the program, three dinners were held per night, five nights a week. Due to waning host interest, the initiative later scaled back to one dinner each night from Monday through Thursday for the 2015-16 school year.
Once reinstated, DW7S will be concentrated in one week of each month. One dinner will be held per night, four nights a week.
The identity of DW7S’s leadership has been kept a secret since its founding. Cotcamp was revealed as the founder in a Washington Post article about DW7S published after her graduation.
The leaders of DW7S hope that these changes will generate more interest from hosts and prove more financially sustainable than its previous structure.
According to Cotcamp, the anonymity of the leadership eliminates any bias associated with the leaders’ involvement in other clubs around campus.
“There was the idea that people would take pause in being involved in it because of who was running it and what institution they were attached to, and we wanted this to be an institution that any felt equally compelled to take part in without any sort of hesitation because of where it was coming from,” a current coordinator of DW7S who has requested to remain anonymous said.
The coordinator said the goal is for DW7S to establish connections that transcend the bounds of students’ typical social circles.
“At Georgetown, our social lives are so compartmentalized around what clubs we’re involved in, and there are so many amazing people doing so many amazing things on this campus,” the coordinator said. “But Lexi felt — and I feel the same way — that there was a huge inopportunity to get to know people outside of your specific realm of interest at Georgetown when there are all these incredible humans, and so we wanted to provide a space where people could relax a little bit.”
Cotcamp emphasized the initiative’s aim to encourage students to move outside their comfort zones and try new experiences.
“We shy away from the awkward because we’re only human,” Cotcamp wrote. “But DW7S serves as a reminder that we didn’t come to Georgetown to stay within the confines of our comfort zone. To engage in the inherent tensions of Georgetown is to truly experience what it means to be a Hoya.”
Alessandra Ruggiero (COL ’19), who attended a dinner as a freshman, is looking forward to the renewal of DW7S.
“As a freshman, I thought it would be a great way to get to know people or at least have a conversation with people I wouldn’t typically meet,” Ruggiero said.
While DW7S has been on hiatus, Georgetown’s professional foreign service sorority Delta Phi Epsilon has started its own version of DW7S called Dinner with 7 Sisters. Ruggiero, who is a member of DPE, said she enjoys the ability to develop a relationship with students she is unfamiliar with.
“I love going to these dinners because, similarly to DW7S, I get to meet and talk to sisters I typically wouldn’t,” Ruggiero said.
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