In the middle of World Cup madness, ECLA welcomed close to 100 alumni back to campus for its first-ever alumni reunion. The majority of attendees came from Europe, but several alumni like Kenny Tan (ISU 2004, Singapore) and Anisa Shaikh (AY 2004, Pakistan) traveled long distances to attend the weekend event. Alumni were assigned to rooms in ECLA’s three student houses and even alumni who currently reside in Berlin elected to sleep on-campus in order to relive the ECLA experience.
All meals and most of the weekend activities took place in an event tent in the gardens of the student houses. However, alumni did not escape the lecture hall entirely; Programme Directors Peter Hajnal and Thomas Norgaard held a panel discussion there on Friday where they answered questions concerning ECLA’s future. The alumni who attended were most interested in ECLA’s accreditation process and how the college would develop its Academy Year and Project Year programmes into a four-year curriculum.
The two-hour discussion might have lasted much longer if it weren’t for the World Cup. Alumni headed back to the tent in time to watch the Germany – Argentina match on a big screen. After Germany had safely advanced to the semi finals, the evening buffet was opened. Director of Alumni Relations Dick Shriver provided some dinner entertainment and evoked many fond memories with his slideshow presentation: ‘A Pictorial History of ECLA’. After dinner, alumni took turns singing their favorite songs at a late-night Karaoke party.
On Saturday, faculty member Dan Vyleta presented a new variation of his popular jazz seminar in the event tent. Later that afternoon, alumni enjoyed the warm weather while chatting and playing football in the student gardens. President Larry Boetsch gave the weekend’s key note address at dinner on Saturday. Later in the evening, alumni members of ECLA’s bluegrass band entertained the audience with a short set and Hannes Kannicht (AY 2006, Germany) played a few songs off of his recently recorded album etude. After his set, Kannicht opened the stage to all alumni and the evening turned into a giant open mike session.
The reunion weekend ended on a low-key note Sunday afternoon. Alumni enjoyed a barbeque brunch while watching old student movies from their days at ECLA. Stephan Hilpert (FYP 2003, Germany) also screened the film, Wiedersehen, which he wrote and directed after leaving ECLA.
Alumni are an important part of the ECLA community and college faculty and administration were pleased to reunite with representatives from all six years of ECLA’s existence. ECLA is working to build its alumni programme and intends to have more reunions in the future.