Students enjoy free food, games in back-to-school festivities

As Ashish Dev walked into the lobby of the Wesley building, he was transported to a time-four years ago-when he stood in that same spot confused, scared and hungry for what this new country had to offer.

Now as a senior majoring in computer science, Dev spent last Friday welcoming other international students at a back-to-school party to connect with the incoming students and to celebrate his last first week of college.

“During your freshman year, be open to initiating conversations with people on campus. Have fun but don’t compromise your grades in the process,” Dev told the new students. “Your freshman year is really fun and you’ll meet a lot of people from all walks of life. Try to step out of your comfort zone and engage in the culture around you.”

This event was one of many hosted by CAB, Chi Alpha and the Wesley Foundation throughout last week. The first week of school, affectionately referred to as the week of welcome, is a week of giveaways, games, free food and new friendships.

Sydney Scott, a junior nursing major, who was one of the few domestic students that attended international welcome party and said that she thoroughly enjoyed herself.

“I heard about this event from my friend from church,” Scott said. “There was a lot of good food, beautiful conversation and I was able to meet a lot of international students and show them that they are welcome to ULM and also show them the love of Jesus.”

Tyler Jay Gerfers, the director of Chi Alpha and one of the cohosts of the welcome party, said that they hope that no matter what they do they will always create opportunities to build bridges of friendship between international and domestic students.

“Within the first two weeks on campus, incoming students start making decisions that will impact their future, such as: which organizations they want to get involved with and the friends they make,” Gerfers said. “At Chi Alpha, we like to provide multiple opportunities for students to make friends and experience real community.”

So many different classifications of RSOs showed up to make this year’s week of welcome memorable for both returning and incoming students, one of which was the Baptist Collegiate Ministry.

The BCM hosted a variety of events throughout this week to welcome students back to campus and make them feel welcome. They seemed to have taken the early bird proverb literally as they launched their week of welcoming on Saturday night with a block party.

Hope Jones, a senior atmospheric science major who also serves on the lead team of the  said that this was a great opportunity for the new students to get to know the people and RSOs around campus.

“It’s really nice when you feel welcome somewhere and the week of welcome is like the school saying ‘We’re glad you are here, we care about you and want you to make it to the end of the semester’  to the incoming students.” Jones said.

Better than last year’s events, many churches showed up for the BCM luau that was hosted outside in the yard of the building, to enable social distancing. This created an opportunity for the students to meet churches, people and make connections.

On Monday, the first day of celebration, Warhawks played dress-up in a fashion show hosted by CAB.

Dylan Laboeuf, a senior pre-pharmacy major who cohosted the event, said that even though this was their first fashion show, they’re looking to making it an annual event.

“The fashion show was important because it helped build and strengthen the relationship between students and faculty by throwing a little fun into an informative show,” Laboeuf said.

Seth Hall, the chief strategy officer for the university, represented the administration as a model in the fashion show.

“As a younger person, I wouldn’t have known the difference between casual and business casual,” Hall said. “We want our students to be prepared to be more successful than they ever dreamed possible and a small part of that is knowing how to dress for specific occasions.”

There was an abundance of refreshments, music and laughter as the hosts tried to keep the students entertained and engaged.

“My favorite part of the event was actually spending time with the students participants behind the scenes. I enjoyed hearing their stories and seeing their,” Hall said. “Plus, they did an awesome job of hyping each other up. Including myself.”

RSOs came back with a bang this year after last year’s Week of Welcome that was pared down due to the pandemic. Even though convocation, the fireworks show and the pep rally were postponed due to bad weather, the participating organizations celebrated Warhawks’ return to the nest in an unforgettable manner.