Walking out of the Mary Graydon Center on the American University campus on a typical Friday morning during the school year, one might see students hustling to get to class on time with bookbags over their shoulders and a bagel in their mouths.
In the summer months, however, the AU campus is quite a different scene. The lack of people sitting on the benches lining the infamous “Quad” brings about a strange feeling of emptiness compared to the busy-ness of the campus during the school year.
The students that brave the dormant campus during the summer are the incoming freshmen. The diverse faces wandering around campus all have something in common: the lost but excited look in their eyes. As the students walk around with name tags flapping awkwardly around their necks their even more awkward parents trail behind them. They try to get as much information out of the guides and orientation leaders as they possibly can before they let their progeny out into the world of preparing for finals, staying up late to write a term paper, and partying.
The Freshman Orientation is a two-day event that happens every year and is meant to help familiarize AU’s new students to the campus and prepare them for what awaits them in the years to come. Students stay on campus and meet new people who are under similar circumstances: they are about to start a new chapter of their young lives, college.
“The first AU students that the rising freshmen are introduced to are their orientation leaders,” explains Thomas Cheng, rising sophomore and one of the many orientation leaders helping the new students get situated. Cheng’s job entails answering the students’ questions about the school and helping students get to know each other through exercises such as icebreakers. Cheng’s reason for working on campus was simple: “I really like working with people,” he said as he rushed down to a residents hall, “and if I can make one more person feel welcome, then I have done my job.”
Sitting in the Bender Library during an orientation break, Jake Stack, an incoming freshman from Park City, Utah is a student who benefitted from the hard work of the orientation leaders. After completing the orientation Stack said, “American University just felt like a place I would want to spend my next four years.”
Another person who seemed to be impacted by the orientation was Corey Gardner, who came to the orientation with his niece Lauren Babb. “Besides being inspired by the beautiful campus,” said Gardner, “the school’s location is perfect for the field of political science,” which is his niece’s preferred area of study.
Seeing some new faces on the AU campus brings back a slight feeling of anticipation and excitement for the upcoming school year. It is comforting to know that AU will soon be back to its busy, student-filled self in just a couple months with new students taking in as much knowledge as they can before they are released into the real world.