This year’s Hollywood-themed New Student Orientation, “Hoyawood,” ran Aug. 29 to Sept. 2 with the participation of approximately 200 orientation advisors, the largest group yet.
The orientation program featured a variety of activities and events designed to introduce freshmen and transfer students to life on campus, including the mandatory campus sexual assault training session “I Am Ready.”
The program, which was introduced to NSO last year, allows new students to discuss the topic of sexual assault in small groups led by trained peers.
Bridget Morton (MSB ’16), one of the five NSO coordinators, praised the facilitators of “I Am Ready” for their work in educating new students about sexual assault.
“They do a beautiful job of helping ensure that new students have all the resources they need,” Morton said. “We really enjoyed our collaboration last year [and] we’re excited to be partnered with them again.”
Morton also noted some changes in this year’s NSO program, including a redesigned transfer student experience and the addition of student staff dedicated to the family orientation experience.
“That will be a newly revamped experience as well to make sure that all of our new families feel welcome,” Morton said. “This is going to be the best NSO ever. We’re really excited about it.”
One of NSO’s flagship events, the Marino Family International Writers’ Academic Workshop, will continue this year, featuring Sri Lankan novelist Romesh Gunesekera’s most recent novel, “Noontide Toll.” The workshop, which is funded by the family of Frederick Marino (SLL ’68), requires all incoming students to read a selected text by an international author and complete a reflective assignment.
During NSO, students had the opportunity to hear Gunesekera speak before they engaged in small group discussions of the novel and its themes.
Chosen by a committee of Georgetown faculty and staff members, this year’s novel tells the story of a minibus driver’s experiences with passengers in post-civil-war, post-tsunami Sri Lanka.
Coordinator of Communications, Outreach and Programming for Main Campus Libraries Jennifer Ann Smith said that it was a relatively easy choice for the committee to make.
“We found it at once funny and warm while also devastating in certain parts,” Smith said. “We thought it raised some very interesting questions and themes about journeys, history, civil war, privilege, inequality, tourism and truth. We just enjoyed reading it.”
Smith also described the workshop as a low-pressure opportunity for students to be introduced to a new culture and the many different perspectives that they will encounter during their time at Georgetown.
“Having the workshop as part of NSO really emphasizes the importance … of engaging with new ideas, some of which may be challenging,” Smith said.
Since the program began in 1995, each year’s novel has had an international focus to ensure that the text offers unique viewpoints beyond the canon of works that many students read in high school.
“For many students, it introduces not only a new culture, but often a whole new way of looking at the world,” Smith said. “We hope that this will help students look critically at their own lives and be more receptive to the new people and new perspectives they will undoubtedly run into.”
The Marino Workshop and its cousin program at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar are the only experience that directly unite all Georgetown students, as students from both schools read the same book.
Held on Monday night, another signature event during NSO was “Pluralism in Action,” a student performance designed to help incoming students explore issues of race, class, ethnicity, gender, religion and sexual orientation.
The performance is followed by small group discussions to encourage students to engage in dialogue in a comfortable setting.
Across the globe, NSO at the School of Foreign Service in Qatar welcomed 70 first-year students and three exchange students from Aug. 16 to 20.
Led by three student coordinators and 22 orientation advisors, the “Dancing Through the Decades”- themed orientation aimed to familiarize students with the resources available on the Doha campus.
“It will instill the Georgetown values and principles by creating opportunities for them to become independent creative thinkers and responsible global citizens,” student development officer Indee Thotawattage (SFS-Q ’14) said.
The SFS-Q NSO featured information sessions on a variety of services, as well as “Pluralism in Action” and a new student convocation that featured a video message from University President John J. DeGioia and an address by the SFS-Q Dean Gerd Nonneman.
Thotawattage said that one of the more meaningful activities at the Qatar NSO is the Social Justice Dinner, in which students share a meal with service providers and custodial staff.
“This enables students to get to know members of the extended SFS-Q community that they otherwise wouldn’t get a chance to interact with,” Thotawattage wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Such activities … enable new students to grapple with Jesuit values such as ‘women and men for others’ and ‘community in diversity.’”