More Food For Thought: Delegates Engage and Connect Through Pittsburgh Family Dinners


by Megan Fair, Senior, Hempfield Area High School

PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania


Eleven delegates from all around the world hopped out of a small shuttle and were warmly welcomed into the home of Fredrica Cryan, a beautiful house nestled in the suburbs of Mt. Lebanon. Greeted with tantalizing hors d’oeuvres and great things to drink, conversation came easily for the host and her delegates.


Fredrica Cryan was assisted by her friends Sandy and Mike Howard, freshman at Carnegie Mellon University Michael O’Farrell, Bill Cooley, and award-winning Pittsburgh artist Cynthia Cooley. The team performed seamlessly, gracefully, and quickly pouring drinks, clearing plates, and serving an absolutely beautiful dinner and dessert.


Because of the large number of friends and delegates, the group was divided into two tables. I had the privilege of eating in the kitchen with Cooley, Howard, O’Farrell, and Cryan, along with delegates Alicia Albert Fabregas of Spain, Ivonne Morales Chabrand of Mexico, Steven Larsen of the United States, and Jiri Novotny of the Czech Republic.


As the group dug into a myriad of colorful, fresh food including salmon with citrus guacamole and a feta tomato and caper salad, conversation at the kitchen based table bounced back and forth from serious to light-hearted. Delegates discussed everything from their causes to their families. Fabregas shared a picture of her siblings, and recounted some childhood stories of growing up as a triplet. Cryan and Larsen joked back and forth about parents and social media, while the table also seriously discussed and considered the new power of modern technology.


After being served a classic American dish of an apple and cranberry casserole, the delegates and hosts from each table reconvened in the living room for more talk. The room was alive with chatter and laughter, as the sound of many different accents blended into a soothing harmony that filled the room with infectious energy. Although almost every delegate came from a different background and had a different agenda, there was universal conversation and connections made between every delegate. Fill some of the greatest minds of this generation with some quality home-cooked food, and see what inspired conversations can come to life.


Before everyone left, Cryan asked that each delegate sign her guest book. As I perused through their messages before leaving my own, I was warmed by the gratitude and sincere, kind messages that each delegate had left. Every single guest had been inspired by both the food itself and the food for thought consumed throughout the evening’s conversation.


As the conference draws to a close, hopefully delegates will not only be moved by the counselors and speakers they witnessed during various sessions, but also by the families who welcomed them into their homes for great food and conversation.

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