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Select students dine, converse with Tuscaloosa community experts

Camille Corbett

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Two dozen students from the University of Alabama have the opportunity this spring to eat a good meal and have a conversation with interesting people from the Tuscaloosa community as part of the program Dinner with Strangers.

Dinner with Strangers is a collaborative conversation event series developed by the Ferguson Student Center Union to connect students and members of the community interested in the same topics.

“Dinner with Strangers is a great event for students to join with the community,” said senior Dillon Dyer, event coordinator for Dinner with Strangers. “It is a resource to talk about certain topics that is the core of Tuscaloosa.”

The topics of discussion for this semester are visual expression and downtown Tuscaloosa.

“For the spring, we’ve chosen two topics – visual expression and downtown revitalization – and will pick 12 students for each of these topics,” said Heather Roberts, programming coordinator for the Ferguson Center.

The selected students and community members will first discuss the topics in a social media-style blog discussion from Feb. 17 until March 2. This will occur before they actually meet in person for a casual dinner downtown hosted by the Ferguson Center, and the entire series will end with an after-party open to the public on Friday, March 8 at the Bama Theatre, where there will be local entertainment, art, food and a bar.

This program has already been an enlightening experience for numerous students, both undergraduate and graduate.

“Last fall, my own participation in the DWS series brought me first-hand experiences with the local food and music scenes in Tuscaloosa – two scenes that have always been existent here, each struggling to find its own voice within this football town,” Natalie Beck, graduate assistant for the division of community affairs, said.

Beck said community is a central aspect to Tuscaloosa, though it is often overshadowed by football. She said DWS is essential to what Tuscaloosa needs to share the many stories this city has to offer.

“The community has largely been previously defined by our sports glory,” she said. “DWS gives me hope for this city, because it seeks to redefine the way we view community and all that encompasses it.”

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Select students dine, converse with Tuscaloosa community experts