By Lenora Brown
Elm Staff Writer
Orientation Explore is possibly the most anticipated aspect of starting school at Washington College. What better way to make new friends and get familiar with your new surroundings than to participate in a high rope challenge course, cook a fish you caught over an open fire, or sleuth out the hidden gems of Chestertown before traveling to the nation’s capital?
With the move to the fall semester online, orientation became a virtual affair.
Despite the change in formatting, all of the hallmarks of a traditional welcome wagon were present: the warm welcome from former President Landgraf, the breakdown of support available for students, whether it be mental health or STI testing, and the key Convocation ceremony. It also contained a little bit of that Orientation Explore charm that students were looking forward to, with a back to school bingo, and a scavenger hunt.
Sophomore Peer Mentor Dylan Snow was skeptical about the idea of having a virtual orientation at first but said that the WC did a pretty good job considering current circumstances.
“It could get boring and tedious at times and the information and zoom overload could be a bit much for the first-years,” he said.
That is where the virtual Playfair comes in. Playfair gave first-year students a chance to have fun and meet some of their peers by playing games and socializing thanks to the Playfair staff. While Playfair was on a Zoom call rather than conducted on the campus green, most everything else was the same.
Snow was thankful for the reprieve that Playfair offered to his mentees.
“Without it not only would orientation have been a lot duller, and a lot of the mentees might not have gotten, to at least briefly, meet their classmates,” Snow said.
Freshman Matt Brader said that the Playfair staff tried to get the students to connect by playing silly games or having dance parties. Breakout rooms were even used so new students had a chance to meet one another.
“It was very absurd, and maybe a little too much, but if you embraced the weirdness and in-your-face upbeat energy it was fun,” Brader said.
Brader is also very grateful for his Peer Mentor, who was always available to answer questions and check in on her mentees.
“She was very nice and welcoming and tried to make us feel welcome and cared for,” Brader said.
Freshman Lauren Badger shared similar sentiments to Brader as she said, “all the peer mentors were very out-going and helped to get the conversation going.”
The Peer Mentors were the reason orientation went so well, making sure their mentees were well educated on all that WC has to offer and that they all had a chance to bond with their peers.
Orientation without the Peer Mentors, would not be an orientation at all.