From August 18-September 2, I worked as a Weekend of Welcome (WOW) Leader at Saint Mary’s College, which I mentioned in my last post. What exactly is a weekend of welcome leader? Well, a WOW leader is someone who is enthusiastic, inclusive, loving, and awesome, and our job is basically to make first year students at the college feel as welcome as possible their first weekend, or in this case, first five days, on campus. When I first applied to be a WOW leader, I was a little hesitant because I’m not the most enthusiastic, goofy, and fun person on a day-to-day basis. However, as I started training, I began meeting new people whose faces I had seen on campus before, but had never interacted with, and I realized that being a WOW leader is a lot more than those five days of welcoming first years to campus. Being a WOW leader is being part of a family, a family composed of so many different personalities, perspectives, work ethics, and well, ways of showing charisma. While the job was basically all day, everyday, and I got little sleep, I am still so incredibly honored to be part of the Saint Mary’s WOW 2013 community. Last year at Saint Mary’s, I was really happy, and I loved all of the friends I had, and I thought that college couldn’t possibly get better. I was wrong. WOW introduced me to people who have touched my life in ways I can’t fully explain, and it taught me that I can be fun, silly, spontaneous, and happy even when I’m going through some really shitty stuff.
As far as my actual group of first year students, they were all so sweet! I had the English majors (naturally), and they were a bit quiet at first, but definitely warmed up to me by the end of the weekend. I remember during my own Weekend of Welcome I was petrified of the 60 students who were yelling and screaming every five seconds, and asking me all kinds of questions about my major, what I was excited for at SMC, and how my day was going (at 8am). I didn’t understand how they had so much energy, and was even more scared that college was just an endless blur of coffee cups, textbooks, and pens. However, after being on the “other side” of WOW, I realized that 60% of the energy is driven from a place that has nothing to do with welcoming students. Instead, us WOWies are able to have that much energy simply because we all love each other and Saint Mary’s so much. While we may be sitting through an event thinking our feet are numb, and that the only thing we really wanted was our beds, the moment the event ended we were right back on our feet, yelling “ahhh yeahhh Saint Mary’s!” and talking with students about anything they wanted.
The end of WOW entailed a lot of clean-up, tears, and hugs. Saying goodbye to my fellow WOWies felt like I would never see them again, despite the fact that I would probably see them around campus the next day. It’s really difficult to go from seeing someone everyday, talking to them about anything, to being unsure if you’re going to see them, and if you do see them, being unsure of whether they’ll talk to you. But I know that I’ve made friends that will last me the rest of my years at Saint Mary’s, and even beyond. Some of the best moments of my SMC experience happened within the last two weeks, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to be part of this family. I have never felt happier, livelier, and included than I have during WOW.
Being a Weekend of Welcome leader for Saint Mary’s College of California was truly my best experience in college thus far. I love every single WOWie, and am so incredibly blessed to be part of such an amazing, inspiring group of people. Welcoming the Class of 2017 was so much fun, and I hope each student enjoyed WOW as much as I did. I’ve never felt more like a Gael, and I’ve never been prouder to call Saint Mary’s my home.
What’s your best college experience?