Orientation Week activities give students a fun introduction to college life and each other

This article was published on: September 12th, 2022

A group of students pose in a vineyard

Five days of activities designed to introduce students to college life kick-started the fall term, last week.

Between September 6 and 10, new and returning students had their pick of a number of fun and informative events, all intended to help them make connections to their academic programs, staff and faculty, and their new peers.

“Orientation isn’t just about fun and getting kids out to party, said Sue Guenther, Associate Director, International Student Services. “Orientation is [about] getting these kids to make connections with people they didn’t know before.  It’s the first time in a while where we’ve gotten to do it to this extent; we’re super excited because we had students who completed their credentials at Niagara College and never got to set foot on campus.

“Now we’re saying: ‘Welcome back. Let’s enjoy getting to know people and making those connections.’ So we’re super excited just to see everybody back on campus.

Three women and a man stand together eating ice cones

Students at the Welland campus were treated to a barbecue lunch, courtesy of NCSAC, on Thursday. A second one followed at the Daniel J. Patterson campus the next day.

Among the activities planned for the estimated 9,500 students–including more than 4,500 new students–starting the fall semester were a lawn party on Tuesday, a Vibin’ in the Vineyard at the Teaching Winery on Wednesday, free barbecue lunches at each of the campuses, and the first varsity soccer games of the year on Friday.

The week culminated with a Niagara Falls boat trip by Niagara City Cruises (formerly Hornblower Niagara Cruises) on Saturday, putting about 1,000 students aboard the vessel to get an up-close look at the Falls.

“Registration has been strong for our different events,” Guenther said. “We’ve got students being engaged.”

Many of the students received a welcome they probably didn’t expect–from NC President Sean Kennedy.

Kennedy spent much of the week travelling between campuses and walking the halls talking to students, guiding them to program information sessions, and participating in Orientation Week activities.

“I am thrilled to welcome new and returning students to our amazing learning environments this fall term,” Kennedy said. “It has been a joy to talk with our incredible students this week as they prepare for their studies through orientation sessions and activities that will set them up for success.”

Kennedy was joined by NC Student Administrative Council (SAC) president Sam Jemison for many of the week’s events. NCSAC was a major player in planning Orientation Week activities, which energized everyone on campus.

“The feeling, in one word, has been euphoric,” Jemison said. “Seeing the return of student life to both of our campuses has been a truly ‘cloud 9’ feeling. I underestimated how strong the power of student life has on the energy for both students and faculty alike.

Three men watch as a fourth throws a Frisbee

Niagara College President Sean Kennedy spent Orientation Week travelling between campuses to meet students. On Tuesday, he showed off his Frisbee-throwing skills at the lawn party planned by NCSAC, the Centre for Student Engagement and Leadership, and the International Department.

“While education is the key focus for all students who attend NC, creating memories, meeting friends, and having fun is equally just as important for both student success, and our NC culture!”

Although Orientation Week has always been about bringing students together, Guenther said it felt as though this year’s week-long event was even more integrated to bring students from every corner of the college together and build connections.

“We still had things like social insurance clinics and Blackboard information sessions–things that are more pertinent to our international students,” she said. “[But] we’re making sure they’re connecting with all students on campus. We always talk about a student is a student. So let’s make sure we’ve got all those resources…that we meet students where they’re at.”

“I’m hopeful students use the opportunity to continue to be engaged and look for ways to connect with others on campus.”