Every year Whitman introduces hundreds of new freshman and does it’s best to make each new person feel welcome. This year the buddy program welcomed a whole new set of faces and I had to figure out how to welcome them and orient them to the program without setting aside a couple of days. My ten hours of training did not impress on me how important or intimidating this task could be. I was nervous that things wouldn’t work out, but of course I was silly to ever be anxious in the first place. On the first day I watched as all the buddies paired up. Some of them were meeting for the first time and others were embracing each other after a long summer apart eager to reconnect. The faces in the crowd lit up with smiles and all of my worries faded. As the semester has come along, I have seen each buddy pair grow comfortable with one another. I forget sometimes how new their friendships are.
The Whitman volunteers in The Buddy Program continue to amaze me. All of them are in this program by choice and it is their continual enthusiasm that has made this semester a success. After spending a semester with this group I no longer worry about programs being a success.
Early on in the semester, on a sunny Friday afternoon, we hung out on the Reid side lawn to play parachute. In this game everyone holds on to the edge of a brightly colored parachute and shakes it around until balls that were placed in the center pop off. One of the buddies shyly stuck around the snack table and didn’t join the rest of the group at first. As soon as someone noticed his absence, all of the buddies shouted for him to come join, until finally he gathered the courage to come over, and grab on.