Alice Waugh, LGO Communications Director
Dannielle Sita, Christie Simpson, Wendy-Kay Logan,
Liron Azrielant, and Natallia Pinchuk in front of
St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow.
There are class reunions, and then there are reunions with your classmates, which sometimes happen in surprising ways. Such was the case for several women from the MIT LGO Class of 2011 who've gotten together in far-flung locales not once but twice, first in Israel and last summer in Russia.
It all started when Liron Azrielant and some of her classmates took a trip to her native Israel shortly after graduation. It seemed like a natural thing to do, "because we'd gone on so many trips during the course of LGO experience, and we loved traveling together and seeing things," said Emily Edwards. "On the last night, we were talking about how everyone's scattering to the four corners of the world, and wouldn't it be nice to do this every year."
Last spring, Edwards spoke to classmate Min Hsieh, who was engaged to be married, "and Min said sort of as a joke, 'Why don't we go to Moscow for a bachelorette party?'" recalled Edwards, who was also engaged. The resulting July trip wound up including Azrielant, Karla Krause, Wendy-Kay Logan, Tabassum Rahman, Dannielle Sita, Christie Simpson, and Belarus native Natallia Pinchuk as well as Hsieh and Edwards.
In Moscow's Red Square, Karla Krause, Natallia
Pinchuk, Dannielle Sita, Emily Edwards, Min Hsieh,
Tabassum Rahman, and Christie Simpson leap
"Natallia did a great job organizing. She sent us a survey to get an idea of what activities we were interested in, and she even sent us a detailed Excel spreadsheet with booked events highlighted for each day prior to the trip—but I would expect no less from an LGO," Azrielant said with a laugh. Pinchuk's attention to detail even included having T-shirts made that said "LGO's Devichnik" in English and Russian lettering (a "devichnik" is a bridal shower).
On a tour of the ornate Moscow subway system, "I thought we were going into a theater—the intricate detail, the marble work, the statues were beautiful," Edwards said. When told by a guide that almost 10 million people ride the Moscow subway each day, "the first question someone asked was if that number was unique riders or the total number of rides. Only an LGO would know to ask that question," Rahman said.
Wendy-Kay Logan, Dannielle Sita, Emily Edwards,
Natallia Pinchuk, Min Hsieh, Christie Simpson, Liron
Azrielant, Tabassum Rahman, and Karla Krause on a
bridge over the Moscow River.
On a side trip to St. Petersburg, the women visited the summer palace of Peter the Great and visited a "banya," where they experienced a traditional Russian steam bath, a dunk in a cold pool, and a massage with a birch broom ("'massage' is a very loose term," Edwards said).
The highlight of the trip was the bachelorette party itself. After an elegant dinner at a rooftop restaurant, the women traveled by limousine to the Moscow River. "Following Russian tradition, Emily and Min released two doves over the river and wrote their names and their fiances' names on a pink heart-shaped lock, placed it on a 'lock tree,' and threw the keys into the river," Rahman recounted.
Afterwards, the limo drove the women all over Moscow. At one point, they unexpectedly encountered a tour group of retired Israelis. "They took pictures of us and wanted to know everything we could tell them—where we went to school, how we all knew each other, where we work—and 'Would you like to meet my son?'" Azrielant said.
Looking back on the trip, the women agreed that the camaraderie and collaborative spirit of LGO haven't dimmed in the slightest. "It was fantastic, like no time had passed," Edwards said.
"Even though we're pursuing careers in different industries and locations, we've been able to maintain the strong bond created from the transformational experience that makes LGO such a unique program," Logan said.
"I think it's the type of relationship that could grow only in a close and collaborative program such as LGO," Azrielant added.