Students learn about each other, make friends


Photo by: Caleb Reeves

Students broke out into small groups to learn more about each other by completing an activity about their life before college.

Alex Turbeville, Assistant Editor

First-year students at FMU met on Aug. 19 in the gym of the Smith University Center (UC) for the “Where I’m From” event, which focused on students sharing experiences with one another.

This was one of the first events during FMU’s Welcome Week. The week was designed to be a fun way to welcome new freshmen and transfer students to FMU and give them an opportunity to mingle and make friends.

Once students arrived they were separated into groups by their last name. Each group had a faculty member and several Patriot Mentors, upperclassmen who advise freshmen in University Life courses, overseeing it.

Faculty members gave each student a template based on the poem “Where I’m From” by George Ella Lyon. In the poem, Lyon lists some activities, feelings and experiences from her early childhood. Students were encouraged to use the poem, but replacing Lyon’s experiences with their own.

Faculty and Patriot Mentors also helped lead students through the activity by describing their own experiences. After students finished writing their poems, they discussed them within their groups to learn about each others’ formative years.

Students and Patriot Mentors then volunteered to share their individual poems, and new poems comprised as a group, with the auditorium. Some were lighthearted and shared pleasant memories, while other students shared some of their more emotional experiences through their poems.

Freshmen Haiana Nguyen and Thomas Teja said they enjoyed the event and felt more connected to other students at FMU because of it. Teja said he liked meeting new people and seeing old faces. Nguyen said he felt this was a good way to start to know potential classmates.

“We were wanting to start a kind of first year, welcome experience for the students, just to help them get connected to each other and the campus as early as possible,” Allison M. Steadman, coordinator of university life said. “Just so they’re going to more comfortable, hopefully, as they get started in their classes and feel more a part of our community.”

Associate Professor of English and Director of the Writing Center Meredith Reynolds was one of the faculty members overseeing a group.

“I do think this event is important,” Reynolds said. “When you come into school here as a freshman, it might be scary. You don’t know anybody, you’re trying to start a new life and create a new persona and everything like that, and I think that this is a really great way for people to realize they aren’t alone.”

Reynolds said students should utilize the resources given to them for free on campus, such as the Writing Center or the Office of Counseling and Testing, as early as possible. She said the people in these centers, and others on campus, are there to help students when they are feeling stressed or overwhelmed with an assignment or class.

Steadman said she hopes that this sort of event will be a staple in the future, and the university intends to have welcome week events in the years to come.