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Students Help Students Move In,
Fit In at Trinity

By Hannah Bauman ’10
      O-Team Member

Hannah Bauman
Hannah Bauman ’10

September 2009 – On Move-In Day in August, one of the Trinity O-Team members became one family’s videographer.

Camcorder in hand, the Orientation Teamer (O-Team for short) followed the parents and the student as they took suitcases out of the car and hauled them up to the room.  Since the family declined her offer to carry items, the best service she could perform was to capture every movement of the day on film, no matter how silly it seemed or embarrassing for the student.

It’s a coping mechanism and a sense of wonder.  The monumental milestone of a child leaving home for the first time is a daunting and emotional one for both family and student…and that’s where New Student Orientation (NSO) comes in.

NSO seeks to have fun while integrating all new students into the Trinity community as quickly as possible. Students have resident mentors or transfer mentors and a small group of their peers as a support system.  As the week continues, that support system grows exponentially: the staff at Residential Life and Campus & Community Involvement; the dedicated O-Team; their professors; and other students in classes and organizations.

The NSO experience is all about love and it’s based on interaction: we want every new student to love Trinity just as whole-heartedly as we do. That happens by engaging students from the moment they step on campus.  The most memorable of these experiences is undoubtedly Playfair, a Trinity tradition of nearly 30 years whose entire object is to learn as many names and meet as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time, all the while keeping everyone active, excited, and laughing.

We also strive to engage all Trinity students beyond their alma mater. Dr. David Walton spoke as this year’s Reading TUgether lecture.  He spoke as a colleague of Dr. Paul Farmer, the subject of Reading TUgether’s book, Mountains Beyond Mountains.  Dr. Farmer’s organization, Partners in Health, works to provide badly-needed medical assistance to some of the poorest communities in the world. By Reading TUgether, students are introduced to global issues and are able to discuss them.  

Dr. Walton’s lecture came at a timely moment in the national dialogue on healthcare and insurance reform.  His message came through clearly: healthcare should not be a commodity.  Healthcare should be a human right.  He showed a picture of an HIV-positive Haitian who also suffered from tuberculosis: a double death sentence.  His next slide showed the man, healthy and doing well, two years later.  “It’s not a miracle, it’s not magic…it’s treating a treatable condition.” 

The theme of NSO is wonderfully simple: Claim Your Education.  It indicates an active stance to learning as opposed to passively receiving information.  Yet as seemingly simple things so often are, there is much more to the message.  Claiming your education stretches far beyond the classroom, though naturally the next four years of classes are of great importance.  The orientation process encourages students to grow not only academically but personally.

True, not everyone has the desire or the means to heroically nurse the desperately poor like Dr. Farmer and Dr. Walton.  That’s not the point.  The point is that everyone has the tools to enact change on a small scale in their communities.  They can volunteer at a soup kitchen or tutor at-risk children.  They can step into a position of leadership they never saw themselves taking on before.  They can be a friend to a person who has none.  They can smile at someone having a bad day.  Orientation gives every new student the tools with which to change their own world, whether their world extends beyond international borders or even just next door.  It seeks to empower them into take those first few steps toward bettering themselves and the people around them.

We aren’t going to do it for them, of course. That education is theirs to claim.

Hannah Bauman is from The Woodlands. She is majoring in classical studies. She was on the O-Team for Move-In Day for first years on Aug.21 – the third year to participate.   

© 2009 Trinity University

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