Week of Welcome
September 12, 2016
Orientation doesn’t happen in a week.
“Planning for the arrival of the Kuyper College freshman class begins in early August,” explained Jana Postma, Kuyper’s Assistant Director of Student Life, “and the process of orientation ends only in late September with the Fall Retreat,” added Postma.
In August, Postma trains two Welcome Week coordinators. These students plan the events and activities for the week, train the students who work with the freshmen during that time, and produce name tags and other materials.
During orientation week, which began the Thursday before Labor Day, Student Life makes every effort to not only provide a warm and welcoming atmosphere for the students, but also to make sure that the students learn how to handle the practical side of being a Kuyper student, including billing and finding out mailbox combinations. “We try to make sure that they feel a warm sense of hospitality and welcome, but that they also get a sense of who these new people are,” said Postma. The week begins with ice breaking events in which the students become acquainted, and it continues into team building exercises designed to deepen and strengthen friendships.
The All Campus Party, a Labor Day evening cookout, integrates the freshman class with the rest of the campus family, as faculty and upperclassmen mingle with the new students. Classes begin the next day, but orientation is far from over. In an effort to deemphasize the distinctions between freshman and upperclassmen, Fun Fest, a zany collection of outdoor games in which on campus students, commuters, and staff compete for a trophy, takes place the following Friday. Curt Essenburg, Director of Student live also pointed out that t placement of students in dorms is designed to maximize integration between freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors.
The Fall Retreat, during the last weekend in September, completes the orientation process. “It’s us just saying, ‘we’ve kind of gotten to know each other, we’ve kind of gotten some of the jitters out, let’s just spend some intentional time together in worship and fun,’” said Essenburg.
Orientation isn’t just for one week, and it isn’t just for freshmen. Instead, it is a two month process aimed at creating a thriving community at Kuyper College.