Last Thursday marked the beginning of a new student-led mentoring program on campus: Generous Enthusiasts.
The program, spearheaded by Anna Ackerman '12 and Laura Armstrong '12 is meant to improve social relations between first year students and upperclassmen and thereby help first years branch out socially.
The self-selecting nature of the program is meant to make it feel less forced. Unlike the existing "buddy" system run through the College Houses, Generous Enthusiasts is fueled by students who are all eager and willing to interact with first years within the partnership.
Currently, there are 54 upperclassmen involved with the project.
After filling out a sign-up survey, each was paired with a first year student with similar academic and extracurricular interests, while avoiding overlaps between members of athletic teams and/or residential halls.
These pairs will meet a minimum of three times over the course of the spring semester and may choose to bond over anything; from something as simple as a meal at the dining hall to taking a class together at the craft center.
For example, in an email to the Orient, Ackerman revealed that she and her mentee bonded "while dipping pineapple in chocolate fondue." She joked, "It couldn't have been sweeter!"
Ackerman and Armstrong shared the inspiration behind the project, remembering when they had felt confined by their respective sports teams, dorms, and the social house scene.
"We wanted to create a program that would allow first years to break out of the social circles which form quickly out of necessity—and a way for first years and seniors to interact as friends in less formal, structured settings," wrote Ackerman and Armstrong.
"We thought of a number of pieces of advice that we wished we had had in our first year, and decided that an informal social connection program might be the best way to hand down wisdom from upperclassmen to first years," they wrote.
Although both Ackerman and Armstrong are graduating seniors, they are enthusiastic and optimistic about the long-term success of the program, and they hope the joint leadership of students and college officials will ensure future growth.
They will be working closely with Dean of First Year Students Janet Lohmann, Mary Pat McMahon, director of residential life, and Kate Myall, administrative coordinator of residential life, to evaluate the program later this spring, and will be examining participants' experiences in order to improve Generous Enthusiasts in the future.