On August 29, KO tried something new with the returning students. The plan was to meet on the turf at 12:40, have an assembly, then participate in a fun activity. The instructions were simple and vague: wear athletic clothing.
First off, I got to KO at about 11:30. Many people were already there when I was pulling into the parking lot. To be honest, it was wonderful to see everybody together on campus for the first time in about three months, but that’s what we do on the first day of school anyways. More people had shown up closer to 12:15, and there were groups of people hanging out everywhere. It started getting more chaotic as 12:30 approached.
We were sent an email with a huge list of over 60 groups and instructions to download an app. Finding our name on that list was difficult on its own, and we had no idea what the activity was that we were doing with those groups. They were completely randomized with a mix of students from every form in each. Because of how random they were, most people were not with any of their friends and nobody seemed to want to participate in the activity for that reason.
At 12:40, after we got our groups, everyone started heading over to the turf. We had to get into sections based on our group number which was so disorganized. There was a small sign that had the groups and where they were meeting; however, trying to get about 250 people into the right place was difficult.
Communication was not good either, as most people just complained about the heat and sun the whole time. The first issue people found with these groups is that some people weren’t here that day, and also some people were not even included in the assortment.
I had to join a different group because none of my partners were there, and my new group ended up being three other juniors who I knew really well.
I saw that the same thing happened with the other groups, and the purpose of the orientation – to reconnect with people – was lost. Personally I think the freshman should have been included in the activity so that they could meet older students and for the upperclassmen to meet the freshman. Because the freshman had their orientation, another way of doing the activity would be to split up by our advisee groups. For the juniors, we had new advisee groups, and the orientation would have been a perfect time to work together and form relationships with our new advisees and advisors. The sophomores and seniors most likely haven’t been together in their advisee groups for three months. It would have been a good time to reconnect. The activity was an app that gave you tasks to complete and get points. The group with the highest points wins.
The tasks could be something as simple as a trivia question or it could be a little harder by asking you to take a picture of someone doing a handstand. When my team and I were completing this, I found that some groups were trying hard to finish and win, while others did a couple and stopped. Not even an hour into the activity some people had already left.
The game was not a good one to help form new connections. Doing these tasks didn’t require much talking and getting to know each other. People were either too focused on completing the tasks or they didn’t even try at all – both of which do not help in meeting new people.
After the event, some of our community members expressed that something like a scavenger hunt or a game where you had to communicate with your group and learn about them would have been a much better idea for an orientation. There ended up being a lot of feedback from the orientation, and it was more of a learning experience about what works as community building and what doesn’t.
If done differently, an orientation like the one we had could be a great way to help bring the people at KO closer.