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Recap of Small-Group Orientation Programs

October 4, 2016
Michelle Greenfield

Before starting classes at Princeton, all freshmen participate in an orientation program. There are currently three programs that Princeton offers: Outdoor Action (OA), Community Action (CA), and Fall Athlete Program. All three are wonderful and give students an opportunity to learn about the ins and outs of Princeton from upperclassmen, get acquainted with the school, and most importantly, make friends as soon as you get to campus. Here are some thoughts from three members of the Class of 2020 who recently participated in these orientation programs.

Mashad Arora on Outdoor Action

For my orientation trip, I did an Outdoor Action (OA) backpacking trip through Harriman State Park in New York. Our group consisted of nine interesting and fun incoming freshmen and three truly awesome leaders. During the five days we spent hiking through the park, we bonded over amazing vistas, embarrassing group games, deep conversations, random photoshoots and multiple wrong turns. Without technology or ten thousand events to attend, we played late-night games of mafia, sang spontaneously while staring up at the stars, and ate s’mores around a campfire while listening to each other’s life stories. We went from being a hodgepodge of people from all over the world with different interests to being a tight-knit and warm family that loudly sang our favorite songs during the bus ride back to campus. Today, as I walk to class, it’s great to run into others from the group, as we share a special connection. Even though many of us have different interests and different paths, we all share this as our first experience at Princeton, and it’ll always be special to cherish the friendships that formed during OA.

Outdoor Action group H2

Leora Eisenberg on Community Action

I had the opportunity to participate in Community Action (CA) Interfaith, in which we spent five days in Greater New Jersey -- primarily New Brunswick and Princeton -- visiting the holy sites of different religious traditions, such as Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and Christianity. While our community service was not as "direct" as that of other groups (i.e. we weren't building houses or mentoring at-risk youth) as other CA groups were, it was just as valid and important. My CA group was privileged to build bridges between communities, which many of us wouldn't normally frequent.

In the evenings, we would do group activities that were focused on our fears about beginning college and our trepidations about life in general. Most of the group really opened up--and it was heartening to see what we had in common, as well as what made us different.

All in all, CA was a fabulous experience. I would seriously recommend the program to anyone. (And if you're lucky, you'll go to a kosher Indian buffet on the last day, like we did.)

Community Action group

Susan Orth on Fall Athlete Orientation

Finding out in late August that all of the freshman got the incredible opportunity to go away on orientation trips, either on CA or OA, and that I was unable to go due to preseason training for Field Hockey, was devastating!  But…of course, Princeton never leaves anyone out. 

We, as freshman fall athletes, got the chance to interact with other fall athletes in a small group orientation group for a few hours over the span of three days.  We discussed our anxieties, things we were excited about for the upcoming year, and everything in between.  Surprise, surprise, many of the people in the room had similar things to say.  It was incredible to be able to be part of an orientation experience like this, while still being able to train for our upcoming seasons.  The pressures of being a Princeton student-athlete are not negligible, and it was so nice to share this time with so many others who experience those same, or very similar pressures.  Also, the leaders of these small groups shared their vast experiences, giving us advice for the year, and sharing some of the many resources that are not only open to us as student-athletes, but all students on-campus.

Not to mention, athlete orientation was fun!  We played fun games, took a trip to The Amazing Escape Room, an interactive, team-building reality game, and I made many friends (who now come to my games, and I to theirs.)

Overall, this experience was such a nice way to start the year … I felt as if I didn’t miss out on any of the great orientation trips that were offered!