Student Orientation Week Begins

With the start of orientation week today, several activities are lined up for the incoming Class of 2020, from a majors fair, campus tours and peer-to-peer sessions to a crash course in Arabic and trips to Old Cairo and El Moez Street.

Activities are also being revamped for deeper engagement with students through competitions and peer-guided classroom sessions.

For starters, the First-Year Experience (FYE) will focus not only on introducing students to AUC’s academic programs, values and resources, but also on incorporating activities that emphasize community engagement. “We are integrating community engagement through competitions, games and selling items, where proceeds will be donated to a children’s cancer hospital in Cairo,” said Nayla El Watidy, AUC student and operations executive of FYE, pointing out the importance of familiarizing new students with AUC’s focus on engagement with the larger community early on.

Some of the activities have also been rearranged. “We’ve structured the week so it is in a more logical order,” said Mario Mounir, specialist in the Office of Student Orientation and Mentoring. “For example, we’re moving the majors fair to the second day after the interactive classroom session to give students time to settle in and think about what they might want to major in.”

Peer-to-Peer

The FYE student orientation team is made up of about 130 students and 70 peer leaders who volunteer their time to help set incoming students on the right path. An important addition to FYE this year is increasing peer-to-peer sessions, in which peer leaders take over the role traditionally assigned to faculty members. “Professors still provide the guidelines for each session, but the peer leaders direct the discussion in a less formal environment,” said Mohamed Ghoneim, AUC student and FYE president, noting that the idea came from a trip to the University of Central Florida last year, where FYE members attended a first-year experience orientation.

In addition to information sessions, recreational events allow students to socialize and have fun. During the three-day orientation, students will collect points by participating in competitions and attending the majors and engagement fairs. At the end of the week, the group and individual with the most points will win a prize. To promote awareness of the sports teams on campus, freshmen will also have a chance to compete against the Frisbee and soccer teams in friendly games, and will battle the volleyball team in an inflatable volleyball game.

Welcome to Cairo

In addition to learning about AUC, orientation for international and study-abroad students introduces them to life in Egypt. “Like every semester, we hold sessions, trips and events to provide as much information and exposure as possible to Egyptian culture and to AUC. This helps new international students with their transition to the University,” said Sarah Saher, senior specialist in the Office of International Students and Study Abroad (ISSA).  

In addition, there will be two new sessions by the Office of Student Community Standards and Student Services Online. “We also tweaked the campus tour this year by including a detailed tour of the AUC Library and rare books collection,” Saher said.

The international student orientation will also include several outings, including a bus tour guided by John Swanson, professor of history and Egyptology and associate provost for special projects.  “Having trips to specific areas in Cairo during orientation week helps students learn more about Cairo’s history and street smarts, with the guidance and assistance of ISSA staff members and International Peer Leaders,” explained Saher.

The AUC Way

Yasmine Ibrahim, officer in Graduate Student Services, pointed out that that the incoming graduate class is primarily comprised of non-AUC graduates and graduates who may be unfamiliar with the American higher education system. “The Fall 2016 Graduate Student Orientation aims to fully familiarize incoming graduate students with all academic aspects of their graduate journey at AUC,” she said. “Accordingly, the comprehensive orientation takes them in detail through the academic services AUC provides and allows them to sit for program-specific information sessions and register for classes on the same day.”  

This year, Graduate Student Services is also collaborating with the Graduate Student Association (GSA). “They will help during orientation and have representation on campus that day,” said Ibrahim. “The GSA will also organize a welcome party for the incoming class during the beginning of the semester.”