Leaving Chicago in order to start college in Holland was a big transition. At home, I was always comfortable with my surroundings because most people either looked like me or shared similar experiences. However, at Orientation, I was immediately aware that I looked different from most of the other new students around me. I was nervous and not quite sure how I would fit into this place I was supposed to call home.
Our differences make us stronger!
Even though I felt unsure, I realized that everyone I’d meet along the way would have experiences that shaped who they are. Orientation has taught me that everyone has powerful stories to tell, and if you take the time to surround yourself with others different from you, some really special relationships can form. Because of this, I knew from the start that Orientation was something I wanted to be a part of.
The highlight of college so far, for me, is definitely being a part of the Orientation Team as an Assistant Director (AD). Orientation at Hope is different from new student orientation at most schools because Hope is really intentional about creating a home for new students, building community, creating long lasting friendships, and most importantly, valuing differences.
The start of college can be extremely difficult for many, but every student has their own uniqueness and authenticity to bring to the table, and at Hope, we celebrate that.
Being an AD has become important to me because I can be a welcoming and familiar face for other students of color who may be anxious about their new surroundings like I was. There are so many moments during Orientation that can positively impact a student’s college experience from the start, so as a team, we work hard to provide students with the best, most fun, welcome to Hope College. We are not afraid to be silly or to dance and have fun, and because of it, we are a better team.
Orientation can help all of us value each other’s differences!
Orientation as a whole has impacted me because it is a time where staff and new students can completely be themselves and everyone around is genuinely interested in getting to know your unique story. The start of college can be extremely difficult for many, but every student has their own uniqueness and authenticity to bring to the table, and at Hope, we celebrate that.
College is meant to be a time when you are completely free to learn about so many different ways of life, immerse yourself in different cultures, create diverse friend groups, and pick up new hobbies. It is important to come into college with an open mind ready and willing to learn. I have benefited greatly by being involved in Orientation because it has helped me find my place at Hope. As for the new students, know that your differences are to be celebrated. Know that Hope is a better place because you are here and because you are you!
My name is Mia Wiley, and I am from Chicago, Illinois. I am a senior majoring in Psychology with a minor in Sociology. As a freshman, I was a part of the Phelps Scholars program. I love to play intramural soccer, and I enjoy being involved with events put on by the Multicultural Student Organizations as well as going to SAC events with my friends. This is my second year being an AD, and I am so excited to meet you all!