At this time last year I was barely a freshman. I arrived for pre-orientation without drama and was grateful for the assistance of older Wash U students who had come early to help first years. I was then provided the information I needed to locate my pre-orientation leaders. The hint, “green squiggly things” on the swamp, turned out to be a sculpture called the “Swamp Friends” on the field in South 40.
Once there, we were quickly sorted into groups, all the while digesting names, dorms, majors, and all the other bio data that comes with knowing classmates by “name and story”. We gathered in Eads before embarking on a scavenger hunt that cast a wider cross campus net. So, we began to orient ourselves to a new campus in a new city. The goal our this pre-orientation program called “Gateway to Global Citizenship” was to travel the globe – all within St. Louis.
We explored what the city had to offer – from eating on Cherokee Street to preparing a new refugee farm by campus. These excursions were woven in with bonding games and conversations all geared towards understanding individual identity within a global perspective. We were with the groups for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. So that the orientation leaders could show us how to order food at Bears Den and the Duc as well.
Gateway to Global Citizenship allowed me to explore and bond with the city of St. Louis. The best part was making new friends and acquaintances which soon became familiar smiling faces that I see everyday. As I begin sophomore year and reflect on that first year, I realized how many of current friends were made in those first few days: a classmate I sat next to in art history, the person I always run into on the train, and the suitemate with whom I decorated our common room with this past weekend.
Those first few days on campus as part of the Gateway to Global Citizenship created a wonderful foundation of friendship and familiarity that students continue to build on. Where we know each other by name and by story.