I don’t know how Orientation is done at other colleges, but I can guarantee that Emerson does it differently.
You’re sitting in your car, bustling into the city of Boston and admiring the buildings around you, the honking of the taxi drivers, and the musky scent that you can’t quite put your finger on. Then, you turn a corner. You’re finally streaking down Boylston and approaching the college of your dreams. And then you see them. Students dressed in short-shorts, sparkly leggings, light-up bunny ears – wait, is there a guy in a gorilla suit? You roll down the window as your parent pulls into the parking space, guided by the dancing crew. They’re getting jiggy to Lady Gaga, doing the Dougie, dropping it low like there’s no tomorrow. As you step out of the car, a person with a headset and orange vest asks your name. You give it and they shout to the twenty or so people standing on the sidewalk, all who respond with “WELCOME TO EMERSON!” followed by screams of glee and a scatter to load out your entire car into decorated carts, manned by more costumed semi-professionals. With that, they usher you along as you race to the elevators, being cheered on the whole way as the cart-operator asks you questions about your hometown, major, and interests at Emerson. Eventually, you reach your dorm door, unlock it, and watch with a stunned expression again as quick little hands unload everything into your room and with a, “Enjoy move-in!” they are scurrying out the door, only leaving a few feathers of boa in their wake. The sudden silence is eerie.
This is the first experience given to incoming freshmen at Emerson College and some cite it as one of their favorites from all four years. Being an Orientation Leader – or, “OL” for short – is one of the most rewarding and most exhausting jobs you could possibly have the privilege to do over the course of your time at Emerson. As someone who’s been at it for ten days, including training, I can say that I would never choose any other way to spend my last two weeks before class. I turned my cart into a “Moooooooooo-ve in Barn,” complete with an deflated cow balloon, and kept up with the bovine theme by sporting my new cow suit to the all-OL dance routine. A partner in crime and I made five hundred students do the wave outside of an orientation event. I sat outside my dorm room at one in the morning with eight new kids while they asked me questions about the Castle Program. I met countless incoming freshmen. I bonded with more cool OL’s than I knew what to do with. But mostly I realized that Emerson is one of the most inclusive and loving schools in the country – hell, the world. I’ve gotten more compliments and encouraging words the past two weeks than I think I have in my entire life. I’m now in the full-swing of couch surfing and I can’t mention it without getting cut off with, “-If you EVER need a place to stay, call me!” People here just…get it. And the fact that I was given the privilege to mentor the next class of awesome makes me feel well…good enough to dance.