NOLS grad dines with strangers
NOLS holds both breakfast and communication in high regard. 1995 Semester in Mexico graduate Matt Webber is taking these two principles to a new level and across the U.S. this year.
Matt Webber and Courtney Dillard write on their website, www.breakfastwithstrangers.com, that they embarked on a breakfasting journey across the nation to remind readers that we are all part of the same community.
“America is polarized,” the website states. “We feel that part of this civic problem is the lack of strangers connecting with strangers. We want to change this—or at least challenge it in our own small way—by taking strangers out to breakfast across America. We’ll share local diner fare and conversation, learning what our new friends think about life’s big and little questions.”
They settled on breakfast in large part because that’s where they were when the idea struck. The setting has proved to be perfect for comfortable conversations: “breakfast is something that feels like home to most folks … which certainly helps when you’re asking a total stranger to breakfast,” Matt explained.
They share each conversation on the website with the intention of selecting 50 to compile in a book: Breakfast with Strangers: 50 Meals Across America.
“We’ll be reaching out to these strangers in a variety of different methods, from social media to want ads to community ads to just grabbing somebody as they’re about to sit down to their meal,” Matt explains in a video on the site.
One of those strangers was NOLS Alumni and Development Director Pip Coe.
“Pip, like many of these breakfasts we’re having, was by pure chance,” said Matt. “I always knew her name as I had seen her photo over the years in various NOLS catalogs, but we didn’t roll into town with the plan of taking her out to breakfast.”
After meeting her in the NOLS building and then running into her on the street in Lander, the two decided they had to take her out for breakfast.
“Someone like Pip who has so much experience not just in the field but also a deep history with NOLS seemed like a perfect person to represent Lander, Wyoming,” Matt concluded.
NOLS played a role in Matt being back in Lander on this occasion.
“I feel like my semester with NOLS has had some influence on most of all my decisions or passions I’ve pursued since then,” Matt said. “When it has come to travel, or loading my backpacking, planning with Courtney to leave our home and travel around in a van for five months to take strangers out to breakfast—well, my semester at NOLS had a role with that, too.”
Strike up a conversation with a stranger today or get in touch with Matt and Courtney and let them take you out for breakfast in your hometown at firstname.lastname@example.org, (304) 50-MEALS or 3519 NE 15th Ave (Box #300), Portland, OR 97212.