Orientation Begins: Building an Integrated AUC Community
This year’s weeklong orientation, which begins today, August 27, will feature for the first time an integrated program, encompassing all incoming students, faculty and staff. In addition, the undergraduate student orientation will be themed around AUC’s mascot, Horus, and will reintroduce a First-Year Experience (FYE) mobile application for new students.
New Egyptian and international students and incoming faculty and staff members will have the chance to attend the engagement fair together to learn about campus activities, as well as a closing ceremony where they will be welcomed by President Francis Ricciardone, Provost Ehab Abdel-Rahman and Dean of Students George Marquis. Additionally, both new Egyptian and international students will be invited to a student celebration at the end of the week.
“This year, the coverage for the new student orientation has expanded considerably,” said Marquis, reflecting on the many new changes being introduced this fall. “The designers, both students and staff, have looked more holistically at the needs of new, incoming students, both local and international, and planned for activities that engage them with our amazing campus in many different ways, from first-year academic life to the wealth of non-academic offerings. Overall, our goal is to introduce new students to AUC's values, diversity and wealth of opportunities, and to demonstrate why it is the destination of choice for so many students from around the world.”
Salma El-Shayeb, director of the Office of Diversity and Advocacy, which planned for this year’s undergraduate orientation, also emphasized the importance an integrated orientation.“This year, we wanted to integrate all new members of the AUC community so there would be an opportunity to gather everyone in one place at least once during the year,” she noted.
All Things AUC
Developing a new vision for the undergraduate orientation program, the FYE team brought the focus of the program back to its roots, AUC itself, to emphasize what orientation is all about. “We decided that the main theme for FYE this year would be the AUC eagle, Horus, our University mascot,” said Mohamed Habib, FYE student president. “We wanted to relate the theme back to the University experience. This represents the core of everything we’re planning this year.”
The team is also reintroducing the FYE mobile application, originally launched in the year 2015 – 2016. “We redesigned the application from the beginning to make it even more effective for new students. We envisioned it as being as interactive as possible” said Habib.
As in past years, the orientation will feature peer-to-peer sessions, in-class sessions and out-of-class sessions, providing students with a dynamic experience that will guide them through all of their first-year necessities.
“Integrating the community during orientation is important because in the end, all students are going to be engaging with one another throughout the year. It will help for them to get to know one another,” said Mariam Koueider, FYE fundraising head and a double major in finance and integrated marketing communication.
The new integrated orientation this year familiarizes new international students with the AUC community early in the year. “From the international student perspective, this offers a great opportunity for them to meet other students at a time when everyone is new and fresh to campus,” said Sarah Saher, senior specialist in the Office of International Student Life.
The International Peer Leaders (IPLs) also look forward to integrating their incoming students with the rest of the AUC community. “The integrated orientation is a good initiative to introduce international students and integrate them into the student community,” said Farouk Mohamed, IPL president and mechanical engineering major. “International students definitely benefit from getting more involved on campus, and other students can benefit from interacting with students from different backgrounds as well.”
The international student orientation accommodates all nondegree seeking students from abroad, whether they are participating in an exchange or study-abroad program. The week will feature various sessions with members of the AUC community to familiarize students with University procedures and the campus, as well as advise them on the basics of living in Cairo. The week will also be sprinkled with organized trips to expose students to major sites around the city. Among the trips planned are a walk on Al Moaz Street, dinner at Al Azhar Park, a visit to the Egyptian museum and a bus tour guided by John Swanson, professor.
Typically, faculty and staff members facilitate in-class orientation sessions, covering informational material while FYE peer leaders lead activities outside of the classroom. With the focus on the AUC community this year, the FYE team has planned for more student engagement. “We’re trying to empower the students more and make it more possible for them to implement their ideas,” noted El-Shayeb. “We’re also giving them the chance to take over as facilitators from the very beginning, leading in-class sessions.”
There are around 150 peer leaders on the FYE team this year and 20 students on its high board. “The students are the heart of the program,” said Mario Mounir, specialist in the Office of Student Orientation and Mentoring. “Our philosophy and vision is that we serve the incoming students by developing current students.”
“We aim to provide a sense of belonging to the University. As we work together, we build a family within the FYE crew,” reflected Koueider. “We hope that when FYE ends, the students feel they want to be a part of this network as well.”
As in previous years, new graduate students will also have their own orientation day, crafted specifically to suit their program of studies at AUC. “The orientation aims to fully familiarize incoming graduate students with all academic aspects of their graduate journey at AUC,” explained Yasmine Ibrahim, senior officer for fellowship and recruitment in the Office of Graduate Student Services. “This year’s class comprises competent students coming from both American and non-American higher education backgrounds.”
Graduate students will be able to attend program-specific information sessions and will even be able to register for classes that day. The day will also include tours of the campus and the library.