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Cultivating Community at The Longest Table

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The tantalizing aromas of multicultural dishes. The familiar click of a Polaroid camera shutter. The lively buzz of laughter and engaging chatter. As Tritons gathered around an expansive 300-foot-long communal table that spanned the length of Library Walk on June 6, there was a palpable sense of belonging and a feeling reminiscent of home.

Part of the Tritons Belong initiative, which was established to engage the UC San Diego community in times when many are struggling with a significant issue, The Longest Table welcomed members of the campus community to share a meal, converse with one another and bond over activities and games. By encouraging dialogue and connections through a series of events, Tritons Belong aims to enhance understanding and compassion.

The event, which also aimed to promote mental health awareness on campus, was hosted by Health Promotion Services in partnership with the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Campus Life, the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Campus Performance & Events Office, the Craft Center, and Housing, Dining, and Hospitality.

Community members gather around long table in front of Geisel Library
Students hold plates of food

“As we gather around The Longest Table at UC San Diego, we're not just sharing a meal; we're cultivating a vibrant tapestry of cultures, perspectives and stories. This gathering underscores our commitment to fostering a campus community where every Triton feels seen, heard and valued.”

- Becky R. Petitt, vice chancellor for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Students playing Connect Four
Polaroids on table
Tablecloth decorated with colorful handprints and designs

A “tablecloth-meets-art” project covered the length of the table, showcasing handprints and stamped designs. Created by community members during twice-a-week workshops facilitated by the Craft Center, the tapestry represented the diverse UC San Diego community and its collective values.

Groups of students were seen coming together from class, meeting up with friends and striking up conversations with those seated around them. Strewn across the table were conversation starter prompts and reminder cards featuring affirmations like “Self-care isn’t selfish,” and “Life is tough, but so are you.”

“The Longest Table gave us a moment to take a break, be mindful and more present. It’s a reminder to be grateful for what we have.”

-Alejandra Ternero, first-year student

Two students take selfie with Polaroid
Alejandra Ternero, left, poses for a Polaroid selfie with a friend.
Four students take a Polaroid selfie
Teresa Lee holds a Polaroid camera to take a photo with classmates.

For fourth-year student Teresa Lee, eating at The Longest Table gave her a chance to get to know classmates she hadn’t spent time with before. After their class ended, they walked to The Longest Table together and stayed for over an hour talking and getting to know one another—and could even be seen snapping Polaroid pictures together with the iconic Geisel Library as a backdrop.

"We hope The Longest Table will become an annual Spring Quarter tradition at UC San Diego. It brought hundreds of Tritons together to actively connect, listen, and learn from one another; to enjoy the good company of others while sharing a meal. These simple—yet meaningful—moments have the ability to positively contribute to our students’ collective well-being."

-Alysson M. Satterlund, vice chancellor for Student Affairs and Campus Life

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