My Experience as a Welcome Week Guide

Welcome Week. Some may dread those words because it means going back to school, too much excitement at early hours, and some forced activities. Last year I was a Welcome Week Guide lugging everything up the three flights of stairs with no air conditioning. Only two short weeks ago, I was a Welcome Week Leader in charge of the check-in process for first-year students. A new system only put in place this year. 

Here at Behrend, students volunteer their time the week before classes begin and help first-year students move into their dorms and meet upperclassmen on campus. Most of the week is filled with long days of training, move-in day, and Convocation. It's honestly the longest week of your life, but also the most rewarding. Through Welcome Week, I have met some amazing first-year students that have gone on to become some of my best friends while also connecting with some classmates who I hadn't met before. Welcome Week Leaders and Guides are comprised of so many different students from so many different organizations and majors. Many of them use this as a time to promote joining their organizations and clubs on campus... or any club for that matter! 

Training is made up of some small ice breakers to get to know everyone on your team's name and team-building exercises so you can understand how to communicate effectively, problem-solve, and work as a team. We also had training on how to use our time wisely for talking to the new students even though we only have a short time span with them on move-in day. This year we were also going to be giving our International students a big welcome and the same move-in day treatment as everyone else! Usually, they move in a few days early to help them get acquainted with at being both Behrend and in a new country. This year they moved in early again, but into temporary housing. This way, they could have the same experience as everyone else on general move-in day. We prepared for this by doing an exercise on what it would be like if English was not our first language and meeting some International students at a tailgate-themed dinner!  

Move-in day is the main event of the week, it's a very long day that starts bright and early at 7 a.m., but don't let that scare you! All of the leaders are there to make sure everyone is energized and ready to go because although it is tiring, move-in day is also the most fun! You bond with your team, dance and joke around, and, basically, do anything to keep spirits up. Some of my favorite memories of Welcome Week are from move-in day. At the end of the day, there is also Nittany Night Out, which is an incredible activity that is held in Reed and some of the residence halls. Students can rollerblade, make slow-motion videos, make a personalized phone wallet, see a comedian, play on inflatables, get a bamboo plant for their room and SO MUCH MORE. Even though we are all exhausted from the day, we all come together and attend Nittany Night Out and try to do the activities, interact with the new students, and overall have a fun time!

The next day is also a little bit of a long one, Convocation. The day consists of a lot of sitting, listening, and basically "herding" students to the correct spots on campus. This year I also spoke at Convocation to address the first-year students on some advice that I may have for them. Many professors, other leaders on campus and the Chancellor also speak. Sessions for the day also include panels on college 101, academic integrity, orientation for each school, transfer student information, and diversity on campus. 

Once all is said and done on Friday, we are free to go, and most of us end up taking LONGGG naps. We may be tired, and our bodies might be in pain, but you can always bet you'll see us all together, laughing, dancing, and having a good time. I said it once, and I'll continue to say it, it's the longest week of your life but by far one of the most rewarding. 

 

Hope to see some of y' all as Welcome Week Guides or Leaders for Fall 2020!