Before the start of any new term, SCU invites its current and returning students to help as “orientation volunteers” in welcoming new international students during Orientation Day. They work together with the university’s staff in planning the event, in organising the materials and manpower needed as well as in executing the program from start to finish. Some of the finer responsibilities of orientation volunteers include:
- Pitching ideas and making recommendations for the event
- Answering enquiries from new and arriving students
- Making sure everyone is accounted for—students, resource speakers and other participants
- Liaising with faculty and staff
- Setting up before orientation and packing up after
- Evaluating the event’s success
In more ways than one, orientation volunteers play a critical role in helping new students feel right at home at Southern Cross University. Since they are usually the first people whom new entrants interact with, they set the overall mood and atmosphere of Orientation Day itself. Their overall demeanour serves as a signal to news students about the kind of community the school fosters.
More importantly, perhaps, their own experience as new students of SCU in the not-so-distant past prove very useful in creating a memorable Orientation Day. SCU student volunteer and SRC member Nestor Glenn Catan relates, “Knowing what new students go through and the concerns they have, I believe, has helped me address their needs better and made their adjustment period a little bit easier.” Volunteers fully understand the psyche of incoming students—their thoughts, feelings, hopes and fears. Knowledge of what motivates and fascinates new international students is effectively translated into objectives and action plans for the best possible orientation experience.