This year’s Midyear Orientation Program welcomed 105 Class of 2021 students and 23 transfer students to the University community. 

After three days of training, orientation activities kicked off on Jan. 7 as pairs of Orientation Leaders led midyears and transfer students through a wintry move-in and a series of hands-on community learning experiences and fun activities. 

“We had a really great batch of Orientation Leaders,” said Sharon Cai ’18, who led Orientation training and programming alongside fellow Midyear Orientation CORE Committee Student Leaders Izzy Stork ’18 and Heather DeNoble ’18. 

After four months of planning, all three CORE members agreed on the success of Orientation from start to finish. This year’s 20 OLs featured “a good mix of experienced people and people who have never been Orientation Leaders before,” added Cai. “And half of the group were midyears themselves, so they were able to relate really well to incoming students.”

During the week, incoming students got a chance to preview Brandeis’ social justice character through diversity programming and a volunteering event. 

The diversity program was a three-part event that challenged new students to look at their own identities and those of their classmates. 

OLs encouraged students to compare and contrast identities to one another and participate in a “privilege beads” exercise. Cai, who organized the event, sought to “challenge students in ways they may have never thought about,” and help students explore the available student clubs and scholarship opportunities.

New students also participated in Volunteerfest, an annual event co-sponsored by Orientation and the Department of Community Service. At this year’s Volunteerfest, OLs and midyear students put together an inclusive carnival for children and adults with and without disabilities from the Greater Waltham area.

“We had a great turnout, especially for a cold and snowy Monday night, and everyone I talked to seemed to be having a lot of fun,” wrote DeNoble, the organizer of Volunteerfest, in an interview with The Justice. “Though it was a lot of work to coordinate the carnival, I think it was absolutely worth it to see our guests enjoying themselves. We kept some of the classic carnival games and events, like the parachute and bowling, while adding in some new elements like a make-your-own-slime station and an entire room devoted to bubbles.” 

Incoming students also got the opportunity to express themselves and show off their skills in Brandeis Got Talent, a talent show featuring impromptu performances. Midyear students showed off singing performances, B-Boy dancing, rapping in German and acrobatic arts, said Cai. A grouplet paired off against their Orientation Leader in a celery eating contest and won. 

Students also had fun in Glo Up, a library dance party with backlight and body paint. “It was fun to transform upper Farber into a completely different space,” said Stork, who organized the event.

Of the transfer program, Stork added that they were successful in giving new students a glimpse of how they could get involved on campus and learn about resources that may be useful to them as transfer students, including the Care Team, Campus Activities Board and the Waltham Group. 

OL Helena Voltmer ’18 told the Justice in an interview, “As a Midyear and a senior, it was great to be able to get to know the incoming Midyear class and see what types of students will take over Brandeis. Midyear Orientation is by far my favorite, [because] of how intimate it is and how unique the students are, especially when you find out what they did during their semester off.” 

“I was happy with how four months of hard work and planning manifested itself in some really great events, and I hope that the midyear and transfer students enjoyed themselves as much as I did,” concluded DeNoble. 

When asked if anything could have gone better, Cai only commented, “The cold — the weather could have been better.”