GAAP Weekend 2014: raining, cold, disgusting. A five-and-a-half hour car ride turned inexplicably into seven. All of the pieces for a terrible experience at Georgetown had aligned in some sort of cosmic joke. I had toured in July 2013 prior to applying; it was hot and humid, campus was deserted. GAAP Weekend would be my first experience at Georgetown with students, my first experience of life on the Hilltop.
It looked like a train wreck.
My parents and I emerged from the Southwest Quad parking garage and followed the strategically placed signs to Gaston Hall where we checked in and the morning introduction was delivered. Immediately after, I left to split into icebreaker groups.
The icebreaker groups gathered in Healy Circle. Amid rain and 400ish admitted students, the group leaders were jumping around, waving flamboyant signs and screaming their respective numbers while a welcome team danced and blasted the Top 20 of the day in the background.
One could easily reach the conclusion that Georgetown students were a bunch of lunatics that had broken down and lost their minds. And in some ways, they had.
Everyone involved in GAAP had succumbed to their immense love of Georgetown. Even with midterms, course work and jobs the staff and board loved Georgetown so much that they were willing to sacrifice their time to convince me that this school, this rainy, cold school, should be home for the next four years.
From my GAAP weekend I met people and formed friendships that exist to this day. I met current students that were completely honest in answering our questions about Georgetown, the good, the bad and the ugly. I heard speakers that were so passionate about their field that they were running around Gaston Hall, electrifying a packed audience while talking about history and math. I sat in on engaging lectures and interacted with professors who remembered me and said hello later that weekend and at Prelude in the fall.
For me, GAAP weekend was full of enthusiasm and excitement that made the weather and the travelling irrelevant. More importantly, it convinced me to make the Hilltop my home, one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
What made and makes this possible? In short, conviction.
It is conviction of students who believe that Georgetown is the best. That Georgetown offers something no other institution can. That Georgetown is where I, and 1,500 other students belonged.
It is conviction of the faculty and staff who believe that Georgetown can provide a top-tier education, that the Jesuit values enrich the entire person, that students have the ability to change the world.
As a current GAAP staffer, I am able to share my Georgetown experience and begin to lead admitted students to find the love for Georgetown that I have found. Look around campus in the coming weeks. I’ll be the crazy person at the front gates.
I am the facilitator of friendships and the breaker of ice. I am the person introducing a professor that could have a profound impact on the life of a future student.
GAAP’s strength lies in its members and board. By being open to all, GAAP allows any passionate student to join, creating an environment rich in perspective and experience. The board creates a weekend that highlights the strengths of the university and provides a forum for honest engagement of issues ranging from academics to the party scene.
GAAP does not seek to create some picturesque view of Georgetown. In icebreaker training, and training for any activity that engages students, we are told to be honest, never to make up an answer. When in doubt, find someone who knows the answer. The goal is to convince admitted students to come to Georgetown in its unfiltered glory.
Here again the diversity of GAAP plays a huge role. Each student presents a different story. A different favorite part of campus, a different dislike. A different course load, a different club.
GAAP weekends and the dedicated people involved present a holistic overview of Georgetown that allows admitted students to make the decision to come to the Hilltop, or not, based on reality and not fantasy.
More than any of these factors or any single activity of GAAP weekend, the GAAP program shows Georgetown’s most valuable attribute: possibility.
Possibility. The possibility to discover D.C., the world and yourself. The possibility to forge lasting friendships that can span the globe. The possibility to join a community where you can be who you want to be. The possibility to set the world on fire.
GAAP is a cornerstone here at Georgetown. Whether it is a GAAP weekend, admitted student phone calls, or coffee shop meet-ups, GAAP brings students to Georgetown. GAAP brings students home.
Christopher Holshouser is a freshman in the McDonough School of Business.