On a Monday evening during spring semester, 35 students at Duke University in Durham, N.C., skipped their normal fast-food fare and cafeteria buffets for a sit-down dinner with their favorite professors.
Most people sat six to a table–three students with the three professors they invited. The students had the opportunity to thank them with their words and with their wallets by treating them to dinner sponsored by Campus Crusade for Christ's college ministry (Duke Cru) and its ministry to professors (Faculty Commons).
The members of Duke Cru had noticed that students rarely thanked their professors, so they saw this event as an opportunity to demonstrate Christ's love by doing something special for them.
Between bites of salmon, ravioli or chicken at the Plate & Pitchfork restaurant, students and professors got to know each other better during the 90-minute event.
The students came not only to feed their professors, but also to pay tribute to them. "I was writing a senior thesis, and it's a lot of work to put in," says Katie Swails, who helped plan the event. "I told [my professor] that she was so encouraging to me. She was one of the reasons I could finish my project because she was my cheerleader along the way."
Dessert included apple bread pudding with fresh whipped cream, and two students spoke to the group about the influence of their professors. Katie (above,left) talked about how a professor had helped calm her down when she was struggling with her class load and major.
The Cru students wanted their professors to know that they care too. The dinner was one way to show that.
"It's a great way to get to know your professors better and to say that you're a Christian so they have a template to see you as a Christian instead of just a student," says Katie.
The event helped to build ongoing relationships with professors; one even reciprocated the invitation to dinner, inviting a student to dinner with his family the next month.