ND freshmen take part in revamped Welcome Weekend
Katie Galioto | Tuesday, August 25, 2015
The class of 2019 spent its first days at Notre Dame participating in events organized by the University and its 29 residence halls during this year’s Welcome Weekend, formerly known as Frosh-O. Over the course of the weekend, freshmen partook in a variety of activities alongside their classmates and older student ambassadors, which were designed to make the first-year students feel comfortable as they adjust to life away from home.
Freshman Andy Nelson said he felt a sense of belonging within the Notre Dame community when he pulled up to Morrisey Hall for the first time.
“I just opened my car and everyone helped take my stuff to my dorm room,” Nelson said. “It helped me feel welcomed. Everyone had Morrisey T-shirts on and when I got mine, I just felt like part of the group.”
Nelson said he enjoys the energy, community and faith that he has experienced at Notre Dame.
“I went to a Catholic grade school and high school, so I’m kind of used to Catholic schooling,” Nelson said. “I liked how faith is an important part of school here at Notre Dame. Over Welcome Weekend, we had a lot of stuff centered around faith, like the opening Mass and the visit to the Grotto.”
Welcome Weekend was led in the dorms by staffs consisting of current student ambassadors who worked to help the first year students move in and transition into their lives at Notre Dame.
Junior Maggie Blake, Walsh Hall’s Welcome Weekend captain, said she thought this year’s Welcome Weekend was the best one yet. Blake said an event called “Ice Cream on Ice” was her favorite.
“We did an event with Keenan where we went ice skating at Compton and ate ice cream,” Blake said. “It was so much fun. Everyone was having a blast and everyone skated, even the people who didn’t really know how to or went in not wanting to.”
Blake said she wanted to highlight the sense of love and community within Walsh for the first year students.
“I remember when I was I freshman, I was really nervous coming in,” Blake said. “Just coming to this place, where people love each other so much, made me feel way better.”
Freshmen Kimberly Faust and Caroline Forlenza, roommates in Farley Hall, said their residence hall’s Welcome Weekend staff made them feel comfortable and excited to begin their time at Notre Dame.
“They were really helpful just while moving us in and helping us organize our furniture,” Faust said. “I didn’t expect them to carry all our stuff for us.”
Forlenza said she felt a sense of unity with her new classmates after the weekend.
“When we were all at the Grotto, we were holding candles and they read aloud some of the concerns I’ve felt,” Forlenza said. “It was nice to hear that everyone’s feeling the same way.”
Junior Jay Dawahare, the Welcome Week captain in Alumni Hall, said his favorite part of the weekend was teaching Alumni’s serenade songs to the first year students.
“Every year we teach the Pups ‘My Heart Will Go On’ by Celine Dion,” Dawahare said. “The words are easy enough to teach, but the emotion behind the song and dance takes a skilled and passionate staff. Usually the Pups laugh at us at first, but by Sunday night you can see a few Pups serenading the women.”
Dawahare said Welcome Weekend was a success, although he said he felt some of the changes this year have hindered the ambassadors’ abilities to welcome new students. Alumni Hall was unable to host its traditional Dawg Run across campus, according to Dawahare.
“In general, there is too much emphasis on one individual, instead of the group,” Dawahare said. “Because a couple people might not want or be able to fully participate, they shut down the whole event. There are carts as an option for people unable or unwilling to run so they are able to ride alongside.”
Dawahare said he presented Alumni Hall as a home and family to its new residents.
“My goal was and still is to foster the sense of brotherhood and community that Alumni Hall is known for, and that has been integral to my experience at Notre Dame,” he said.