If there is one aspect of Yale for Life that has (pleasantly) surprised its originators, and has marked this as a vitally important part of Yale Alumni’s future, it is the wonderful community – of alumni, faculty, and Yale administration – that it has spawned.   The best way to understand this is to hear from the community members.  Watch and listen to Harry Pinson ’70, as he describes his feelings as he approached the end of his first Yale for Life program:

We arrive at a Yale for Life program having poured ourselves into sometimes difficult reading in the months before; perhaps a bit uncertain “if we’ve still got it” in class with our fellow Yalies.  We find, somewhat surprisingly, that this shared challenge offers us an immediate commonality.  As we go through the week, sharing discovery, wonder, laughter, and mutual respect, that shared challenge becomes a bond.

At Yale for Life we share a new experience, a new challenge, with new people – and we have all this in common. We share a love of the truth, of discovery, of the hard work that must be done to really learn – and which we never have the chance to do in our daily lives.  To do this in the greatest setting ever created for this – Yale – and in the site of our youth, breeds the Yale for Life community.

Yale for Life participants have grabbed this bond and made it stick.  We join the “DS4Life” private Google Group (DS4Life comes from “Directed Studies for Life, the name of the first Yale for Life course), where alumni and faculty from all our courses join in an ongoing discussion – of everything, from the latest at Yale to Vladimir Putin to a Renaissance painting recently seen, to a grandchild newly born.

Click here for a sample of just one of the thousands of discussions that has gone on.

In New York City, Yale for Life participants have a monthly lunch at the Yale Club.  In Paris, visiting alumni stop at the home of one of our 4-time attendees.  In Turkey, several Yale for Life alumni joined Y4L professor Jay Winter on a Yale Educational Travel tour of the Gallipoli battlefield (along with Ephesus and more).  This just skims the surface.

In 2012, two Yale for Life alumni from the Grand Strategies course were challenged by Professor Gaddis to return months later and debate a strategic subject in front of a grand dinner that included Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady.

Beginning in 2017, Yale for Life will partner with the Yale Humanities Program for an ongoing initiative that will bring alumni back during the academic year for events together with current Yale undergraduates – as well as each other.  We envision joint seminars, special events and presentations, networking, mentoring, and a further deepening of our community as we engage with, and join more deeply, the fabric of Yale.

So the connection, the community, is not just some dinners together or swapping Yale stories – though that certainly happens.  It is perhaps found in our name: “Yale for Life.”  Listen to Andy Lipka ’78 on the depth of the bond:

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