As the Fall 2016 semester drew to a close, Berkeley Connect students were invited to share their favorite Berkeley Connect moments. All three posts that were selected for publication focus on a moment of connection. Here, Taylor Chan describes how she connected with another student in Berkeley Connect in Ethnic Studies & African American Studies.

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Taylor Chan (left) bonds with a classmate.

The Ethnic Studies Alumni panel three weeks ago definitely sparked my favorite Berkeley Connect moment. While the panel itself was super reassuring, reminding that there’s no singularly “correct” approach to life post-grad, just as impactful was the thought-provoking exchange I shared with a classmate afterward. At the event, she’d asked about a recurring theme in the panelists’ responses: what does it really mean to “go back and serve my community” if I feel I don’t have one? This question, one I’ve pondered a great deal in my own academic pursuits, gave me the courage to approach her after. What began initially as a conversation about academics/community eventually led to general talks about personal life, navigating college, and more. Despite us never interacting much before, this spontaneous conversation didn’t just end in Barrows—it continued through my walk home and as she even visited my apartment.

It felt great talking to someone whose experiences I could relate to! And, even if I’m still unsure of who to call my back-home “community,” this unplanned Berkeley Connect moment both encouraged me to think critically about my own experiences, and provided  new connections and support to start forging community ties here at Cal!