Monday, August 27, 2012

Orientation 2012

This past weekend, Saint Michael's College welcomed the incoming class of 2016 to it's campus. And at SMC, we don't just welcome new students. We usher them in with moving crews, loud whistles, smelly O-Leader t-shirts, and the best orientation weekend around.

So a week ago today, all of us student orientation leaders returned early to campus to move in and begin training before the big weekend. I had been staying in Burlington, so I made it to campus basically about as early as you could arrive, moved in, and dove headfirst into O-week. At first it was kind of weird to be back on campus, because besides the athletes, RA's and some others, it was mostly empty. Also, I missed the Alliot hours, so my first meal consisted of cereal, mac'n'cheese and cookies. Yep.

My O-Partner, Halle, and I.*
But then training began, and it was nice to see all the other o leaders and get pumped for the week. Training lasted from Monday until Wednesday, and like most awesome things, it flew. Besides the aspects that were concentrated solely on the incoming students, we also got to have some fun: like going on a boat cruise, bowling, seeing The Campaign, and overall just hanging out with each other. Then Thursday morning rolled around, and it all began.

Ask any student at SMC about move-in day freshman year, and you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who has forgotten it. When the new students arrive on campus that first morning and pull up to their hall, their cars are promptly SWARMED by over-caffeinated upperclassmen who want nothing more than to carry their heaviest items to their rooms on the fourth floor. But seriously. O-leaders have a contest to see who can carry the most fridges. The record is in the eighties.

After move-in, the O-leaders have a few-hour break to relax and take a breather, and the freshman have time to decompress and try and get the sound of whistles out of their heads. Then that evening, we reconvene for the BBQ and convocation, after which any remaining parents will usually depart. Then, that night, we have the Fun-for-All, which is an activity night in the gym where the O-leaders dress up in themed costumes (this year the theme was KNIGHTS of the Nineties, and my O-partner, Halle, and I were the Olsen twins, modern day), and we do trust activities and such. It gets a good turn out, and I think it's lots of fun.

The rest of the weekend consists of more events, like the Friday night dance, and the Hypnotist show on Saturday, as well as academic things such as writing and language tests, and library tours, etc. But for sure the most powerful part of orientation is Connections on Sunday morning.

It's not a secret, but for the sake of maintaining the gravity of the event I wont say too much. But almost unanimously, people agree that it was the best part of their orientation weekend, every year. It's a sobering event, the purpose of which is to let the incoming students know that they aren't alone, and that help, support, and love in general can be found on campus.

Having been fortunate enough to experience orientation  from both sides, I feel that, again, I'm coming away from this first weekend feeling closer the college as well as my peers. As much fun as we all have, and as silly as orientation can be, it really does shape people's experience here, and I am humbled by what I have learned and experienced. 

O-Leaders 2012!!!*
Thanks for reading! 

*Photo credit to Dave Landers.

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