News & Features Editor
New Student Orientation and Pre-Camp are two highly recognized orientation programs at Springfield College. They provide opportunities for incoming first year students to adjust to the new environment and meet new people. Through loud chanting, dancing, emotional sessions and more, the programs have earned respect throughout Springfield College.
However, there’s another orientation program that is often overlooked. Cultural Connections is a program that takes place before NSO and Pre Camp that welcomes students from marginalized groups or students who are concerned about issues of social justice.
Felicia Lundquist, director of multicultural affairs, will help oversee the program for the first time in the fall of 2016. One of Lundquist’s goals is to appeal to a larger and more diverse group of students.
“One of the things that we have been talking about in terms of improving the program is better marketing,” Lundquist said. “We want to market to all students who have an interest in cultural enrichment, diversity and working together as a community.”
Like NSO and Pre Camp, Cultural Connections has a number of mentors or leaders to help the first year students feel comfortable on campus. The mentors lead discussions that allow students to share their experiences. Discussion revolve around social justice and cultural awareness.
“These are complex issues that are heavy and emotional,” Lundqusit said. “I would hate for a student to come [to Springfield College] and feel that they have been thrown into this place where there are policies and practices that don’t meet their needs.”
Mentors of the program are there to provide guidance, friendship and a helping hand. They introduce first-year students to resources on campus, and having previously navigated the system, mentors act as role models.
“We want to make sure that the students are not feeling heavier than they were when they came in,” Lundquist said.
Lundquist also plans to make some changes to the program. In the past, the Cultural Connections has been about building a legacy and creating your own legacy. Without losing the integrity of the program, Lundquist has some ideas in mind.
“Some of the changes will include educational and cultural enrichment and awareness,” she said. “I also want to improve on growing the legacy so that there are more people involved in the program and that it is more integrated with NSO and Pre Camp.”
Lundquist also hopes to add a writing portion to the program. She explained that writing allows for a creative outlet to express yourself. She hopes that students will write their true feelings and is hopeful that by the end of the three-day orientation program, students will feel comfortable sharing their work.
“[Writing] is something that you can take away and keep for yourself,” Lundqusit said. “I want students to know that they can write, they can journal, they can share their deepest darkest secrets and fears if they choose to. If they choose to share, that’s wonderful. It builds solidarity. Many people will say, ‘I have that same fear,’ or ‘I have that same thought.’”
Lundquist also hopes to get participation from faculty and staff. The students and the office of multicultural affairs previously ran Cultural Connections and adding faculty and staff could provide a whole new element to the program.
Last year, Tamie Kidess, director of alumni relations, and Maria Luisa Arroyo, admissions counselor involved in multi-cultural recruitment, participated in the program.
“My goal is to continue that,” Lundquist said. “The students really enjoyed it and it’s a great way to connect faces. The students saw an admissions counselor who is invested in and committed to inclusion and diversity.”
Lundquist also wants to add a ceremony to the end of the program in which mentors are rewarded for their leadership throughout the three days.
“Validation is really important,” Lundquist said. “If I am asking you to do something and be a part of something, I want to be able to validate you for that for taking your precious time to do it.”