Me + Arts Orientation (and why You + Arts Orientation should be a thing too)

Friends, Waterloo Orientation (specifically Arts) has given a ton in my life, like:

  • Some of my bestest friends;
  • Making me feel a part of the university & faculty community when I needed it the most;
  • The chance to actually MEET & befriend people in my faculty, not just do the awkward eye-connection head-bob at them because I recognize them from 5 of my classes but have never talked to them;
  • Connecting me with upper years who became friends but also casual mentors;
  • Giving me the greatest gift of being able to mentor younger years & first years and befriend them and watch them grow into amazing mentors & students themselves;
  • Leadership development opportunities like working in team and leading a group of leaders;
  • Soooooooooooooooooooooooo many of my other friends (not just in my own faculty, but across all faculties #focmemes2016);
  • Bursting me out of my “I’m here just to study and ace everything and go straight to grad school and I don’t need friends whatever” bubble and reminded me that there is more to school and university and life;

Among other things.

Consult the above list and it should be pretty obvious to anyone hat being involved Arts Orientation Leader was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had—and it could be for you too. I’ll admit that I was lukewarm about the institution of ~Orientation~ until maybe the day before the actual Orientation Week (I disliked my own first year Orientation Week, after all) but there’s something about standing in Arts Quad, in a mass of fellow upper years and peers and feeling like you’re in a massive, humming human engine of community—and knowing that you’re one of the people at its wheel, building relationships, helping students feel welcome.

It’s a lovely, lovely feeling and you should feel it too—our applications for Arts Orientation leaders are open now until May 4th, 2016 at 11:59pm on Leads.

There’s something else I want to address: there’s been a myth floating around about orientation that I’ve been hearing and seeing everywhere, and it’s that you need rowdy and/or loud and/or extroverted to be an Orientation Leader.

Call in Adam Savage. Picture him in your mind, and listen to him shout, “YOU DON’T NEED TO BE ROWDY AND/OR LOUD AND/OR EXTROVERTED TO BE AN ORIENTATION LEADER.”

You just need to be open-minded & want to make a positive difference in the lives of others. first years (and real people in general, really) are so diverse, so different, and there are a ton of ways of connecting with them and welcoming them to the UW and faculty of arts communities that *don’t* just involve screaming cheers and doing the Rowdy Arts Dance– it’s answering questions, it’s telling them about your own experiences in co-op and residence, it’s laughing with them about your favourite TV shows, it’s being their partner in Huckle Buckle, it’s telling them that it’s okay to be homesick and that you were too, it’s telling them that you too were lost and continue to be, just like them.

Connecting to first years happens in so many different ways, and we need leaders that reflect this diversity. Whether you’re loud, quiet, rowdy, silently passionate, intense, introverted—we need you all!

So apply, apply, apply to be an Orientation leader—it may be a good opportunity for leadership development, a nice memory to keep, or even a life-changing experience. Maybe even all three? Or more? Find out for yourself and just apply.

Lots of love,

Amy Zhou

Frontline Leader, Arts Orientation 2013

Head Leader, Arts Orientation 2014

Leader Coordinator, Arts Orientation 2015

Arts FOC, Arts Orientation 2016. 


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