After months of peace and quiet, campus came alive with the arrival of new and returning students and the welcome week events that surrounded the students’ arrivals. With this year’s welcome week being fully operational with the removal of the previous year’s COVID-19 restrictions, students and faculty worked extremely hard to make this year’s theme and events special. Grace Vernon, a junior double major in Elementary Education and Women’s Ministry, shares how she was challenged with integrating faith into all aspects of the week.
“Daniel and I played a role in connecting the dots between Steering Committee and the ministry aspect of OBU. Our team did a great job of preparing themselves to minister to all the Welcome Week Workers, known as Tri-W’s, and the new incoming freshmen” Vernon said.
Vernon shares how she took this task and integrated it into the events and the overall theme of the week.
“The theme for this year’s welcome week was ‘Beyond.’ From the moment that theme was announced, it felt like exactly what we needed. Having that word be the focal part of our welcome week felt perfect, given what everyone had experienced this past year. We’ve been pushed to go, think, and experience things beyond what we ever thought possible in this last year. This theme pushed us as a committee and the Tri-W’s beyond what we believed we could reach. As a result, these freshmen were welcomed on Bison Hill in a way beyond what any of us could have hoped for,” Vernon said.
Even with a majority of the COVID restrictions previously placed on campus being lifted, planning the first event of the school year was no easy task. Grace Vernon shares how everything was carefully planned and executed in the safest way possible.
“This year was challenging in multiple ways. Following COVID, it was our hope and our passion to make these freshmen feel at home in a place that was so new to them. Trying to figure out how to balance what welcome week used to look like and what it looked like during COVID was difficult. The steering committee spent a lot of time trying to find the balance that would make these freshmen feel safe and comfortable, show them the vast traditions on Bison Hill, but also give them space to get to build relationships and have fun,” Vernon said.
These goals set by steering committee were certainly met. Kailey Belknap, a freshman Elementary Education major, shares how welcome week introduced her to a friendly campus and new friends.
“Welcome week gave me new friends and a better idea of how the campus runs. Welcome week showed me how close and friendly everyone is on campus. Overall, my experience was awesome,” Belknap said.
The culmination of the week was a worship event where students and faculty came together to worship as one body. Grace Vernon shares how this event was the most meaningful to her and made all the hard work that went into this week worth it.
“My favorite memory of welcome week was the Unity Gathering, which was the event that my co-chair and I were in charge of putting on. I loved looking out at our student body worshipping together and laying all of our cares down at the Lord’s feet. We had been through a lot together this welcome week and now we were being united once again, but this time was through worship. It was so sweet, it was so beautiful, and it was exactly what my heart needed” Vernon said.