Writing about the most relevant, controversial topics to the readers of one of the largest newspapers in the world is no easy feat. A group of Stuyvesant freshmen heard it first hand from Frank Bruni, who recently became a columnist for the New York Times, when he visited Stuyvesant High School on Tuesday, May 15. During periods eight and nine, Bruni spoke in the Murray Kahn Theater to students from the freshman composition classes of English teachers English teachers Holly Schechter and Eric Ferencz, as well as those students who had free periods.
Prior to being an Op-Ed columnist, Bruni worked as the chief New York restaurant critic for five years, and the Rome bureau chief for three. In addition, Bruni wrote “Born Round: The Secret History of a Full-Time Eater”, a memoir about his life in which he describes his lifelong struggle with overeating and bulimia, dating back to his childhood. In his blurb for the book, he described it as “an overeater’s story… [unusual in that] the overeater winds up making food the focus of his professional life.”
The freshman English classes had been looking forward to Bruni’s visit for several weeks, and Schechter and Ferencz incorporated preparation for his visit into their class discussions, asking students to formulate questions to ask him in advance. Many students were excited when they first heard that the author of the memoir they enjoyed reading was coming to visit. “I wanted to meet this man who I had read so much about, one that I felt I knew so well,” freshman Daniel Zabari said. Bruni began his lecture by discussing the book’s contents as well as its production. He spoke of his experiences with his illnesses, as well as his life as a journalist. He finished his talk by opening the room up to questions from the audience.
Question topics varied and were about many aspects about Bruni’s life and career, including his memoir, his time spent as a restaurant critic, particular articles, his opinions on dieting, and his favorite places to eat in New York City.
Many of the attending freshmen said they felt that Bruni’s visit had been and enriching and informative experience. “I thought we were all very lucky to be able to talk to such a distinguished journalist in the field. He was very open and took the time to answer any questions that the students had,” freshman Rebecca Chang said.
Freshman Caroline Kim agreed, saying that his answers could help students with their own writing. “I thought he gave interesting tips on writing and experiences as an editor,” Kim said.
When the question and answer portion came to a close, Schechter took to the podium and explained to the audience that her long-time correspondence with Bruni had culminated in his visit because of one particular email describing the effect his memoir had had on her classes. Schechter was grateful that he took the time to visit Stuyvesant
Schecter and Ferencz, along with many of their students were so captivated by Bruni, that they remained after the lecture to continue to ask questions, until Bruni finally had to leave.