Letter to U of T Magazine (re: Less Starin’, More Sharin’)

U of T Magazine, Autumn 2010

I read Andrew Murphy’s column and recalled the days when I was an undergraduate at U of T.  Looking back, I wish I made more lasting connections when I had the chance.  Somebody once told me (after I graduated) that the most important thing that you pick up at university is your friends — you will lean on them for the rest of your life.  So Murphy is spot on when he says students need to be more confident to meet new faces and make the university experience fun.

Since graduating I’ve picked up a talent for befriending new people. Some of this confidence comes with age, but a lot can be fostered by the university.  I know this because I served as an assistant master (akin to an assistant dean) at Princeton when I was a graduate student.  At Princeton I was surprised by how many students would stop me and thank me because I had once joined them for a meal when they were alone in the cafeteria, or said hi to them on campus.

These were simple gestures, yet they meant so much because everybody comes into university nervous and yearning for kinship.  The one lesson in life I’ve learned is this:  Small gestures often bloom into great outcomes, so smile and be friendly.

Kai L. Chan
BSc 1999 Trinity
New York City