For centuries, relationship building has been at the core of the human psyche and instinct. Undoubtedly, one of the greatest feelings in life is when you’re surrounded by all your loved ones, satisfying the human need to gather, celebrate, and party. So, imagine a day where you were able to gather every single person you’ve come to know into one room at one massive, communal party. From your best friends from college to your local bartender who always perfects your drink – everyone. Grebel alumnus Kristin Reimer doesn’t have to imagine this scenario because she lived it. She managed to gather almost 500 people on her parents’ farm for a party that took a decade to plan.

Kristin moved into Grebel and the University of Waterloo in the fall of 1995 initially to pursue her first love – acting. She enrolled in the theater program but transferred after her first year as she developed a keen interest in her Peace and Conflict Studies (PACS) electives and decided to keep acting alive as a hobby. After graduating in 1998, she ventured off alone to the United States for work, where she quickly began missing her friends. It was at this moment that Kristin said she began to truly recognize the value in those connections, and so began a bit of brainstorming. “I decided I needed one day in my life where everyone I’ve ever met in the entire universe could get together and just party and celebrate life together,” said Kristin. “And so that’s when the 2010 party was born.”

In 1999, Kristin set out on a mission to gather the addresses of everyone from her life – past and present. One day, hundreds of people received an invitation telling them to mark June 26, 2010, in their calendars from now. “I had no idea what would happen or where, but we were going to have a party and I figured I’d need to give everyone 10 years notice for them to show up,” she mused. Over the years, the list grew to 1000 people.

While most of the people on the list were close friends and family of Kristin, she noted that this party “wasn’t even just everyone I loved, but everyone that I’d met. So, if I talked to a bartender one time, I would invite them, and some people did show up that way.” For each of the 10 years leading up to the big day, Kristin would mail out a reminder – once a bumper sticker, a fridge magnet, a bookmark, the list goes on.

“She really hit the nail on the head with a fridge magnet with the date and subtitle, there ain’t no excuse,” said Nathan Scott, Grebelite and friend of Kristin who attended the party. Nathan loved Kristin’s idea of staying connected and helped build a website in ‘99 to further promote the party. There were no false promises for Kristin and her friends to meet again because “I’ll see you in 2010” quickly became a phrase. 

there ain't no excuse

June 26, 2010 was on track to becoming one of the most memorable days of Kristin Reimer’s life. Until the day before the party when she married the love of her life in a very small celebration outside on the farm. She had insisted that her 10-year party shouldn’t turn into a wedding, so that afternoon she urged her guests to toss out their wedding clothes and help set up for the next day. Most of the people who showed up at the party the next day didn’t know that Kristin was not only celebrating life with 450 of her friends, but also a new and exciting chapter in her story. “It just made sense,” said Kristin, to hold both celebrations in one weekend.

“We had a stage and some friends hired musicians from Alaska to come play,” said Kristin, reminiscing on the big day. “In Grebel fashion, we had a square dance, a talent show, and tons of food. We covered the whole barn in fridge magnets of words that people could mix around to create poems and phrases,” she said. Kristin was thrilled the feeling that sparked the idea in 1999 had finally been fulfilled. 


While this party remained in the back of Kristin’s mind for the decade leading up, life otherwise continued. With an Arts degree in hand and connections with Mennonite Central Committee where she previously worked, Kristin travelled to North Korea to teach English. She landed in Pyongyang in 2005 and spent six months in a landscape that she described as, “an incredible and interesting place that truly made me love teaching.” Upon returning to Canada, Kristin did her Bachelor’s, Master's, and PhD in Education at the University of Ottawa. She worked there for years as an Instructor in the Faculty of Education while doing her studies before moving to Australia where she currently teaches and researches at Monash University.

At Monash, Kristin draws from her PACS knowledge and is a Senior Lecturer in Restorative Justice in Education. Her work deals with relationships in classrooms, conflicts that occur in schools, and how approaching them strategically can help facilitate conflict skills in children. She is also involved in the Monash Access Program which is an alternative-entry program into university. There, Kristin works closely with mature-aged students to help them identify their academic strengths and grow their confidence, with the end goal of preparing them for admittance into a post-secondary program.

“I love being part of a ripple,” explained Kristin. “While my eyes are often focused on the big picture of using education to bring change and joy into the world, it can feel overwhelming and sometimes unrealistic. Instead, I find fulfillment in the conversations I can have with the 25 people in my classroom, where I can facilitate the knowledge and opportunities for them to do their bit in their own classrooms” she said. Kristin owes much of this mindset to her time studying in PACS at Grebel.

“Life is all about building relationships,” said Kristin. Her story is proof that like anything else, they require a certain level of maintenance and effort to sustain. While your efforts may not involve a decade-long initiative, or be quite as intense as Kristin’s, it’s important to appreciate and learn from the beauty behind actions like hers. Kristin is the kind of friend that nobody forgets.

Kristin's story is part of Grebel's 60 Stories for 60 Years project. Check out our 60 Stories page for more articles in this series. If you would like to nominate a Grebel alumnus to share about their experiences at Grebel, please submit a nomination form.

By Farhan Saeed