Branner students, staff share lunch as part of Contemplation by Design

Branner Hall
Dining hall and custodial staff from Branner joined students for lunch on Meyer Green.

During the lunch hour on Friday, Nov. 4, LEXI NAVA lifted his head toward the sky, closed his eyes and enjoyed the autumn breeze wafting through his hair. Usually at that hour Nava would be hard at work as a cashier and pot runner in the Branner or Casper dining halls. But that day he and several of his dining hall and housing custodial staff coworkers joined students from the Branner residence hall for lunch on Meyer Green.

As part of this year’s Contemplation by Design (CBD) program, the entire Stanford community was invited to take time out for quiet reflection. Participants could gather in Dorhmann Grove or the Oval Ear for tai chi and gentle stretching, and Meyer Green for a community sing-along. At 12:30 p.m., the carillon bells began to ring from Hoover Tower for a 20-minute concert.

“It was a great experience,” said Nava, who likened the experience to a spa. “It helped me relax and get my mind off other things.”

Another kitchen worker, OLGA BENAVIDEZ, called it “a little meditation medicine.”

ROSALYNN EMBERTON, a junior who lives in Branner, the public service-themed dorm, said Friday’s carillon concert gave her an opportunity to slow down. “I had two classes this morning, so it’s nice to stop and get away from the busyness,” she said.

The impetus for inviting Branner’s dining and housing custodial staff members to share the CBD experience grew out of conversations among TIA RICH, manager for resilience, stress management and contemplation programs for the Health Improvement Program (HIP) and BeWell@Stanford; Branner’s Resident Fellows TOM and MARY ESTHER SCHNAUBELT; and two of Branner’s resident assistants, VY LUU and ROSEMOND HO.

Luu and Ho worked with Residential & Dining Enterprises to get clearance to close the Branner dining hall for the lunch hour that day and to arrange for box lunches for each participant to enjoy. The other dining halls remained open for regular lunch service.

But before walking over to Meyer Green, students and the staff gathered in Branner’s lounge to get better acquainted. Many members of the dining hall staff had never been in the dorm’s lounge.

“I would say ‘hi’ in the dining hall, but now I know their names and their home towns,” Luu said.

A campus-wide, multidisciplinary event designed to encourage all members of the community to “enjoy the power of the pause,” this year’s CBD Summit runs through Friday Nov. 11. For a full schedule of events, visit the CBD website.