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UBC Reports | Vol. 47 | No. 13 | September 6, 2001

Imagine, they're volunteers

Behind every first-year student there's a raft of volunteers

by Michelle Cook staff writer

Sept. 4 may have been the first day of university for thousands of new UBC undergraduates, but it marked the culmination of months of effort by more than 700 campus volunteers involved in organizing Imagine UBC, Canada's largest university orientation program.

Imagine UBC, now in its fifth year, is a day of introductions, information sessions, workshops and a pep rally designed to help first-year students make the transition from high school to university.

This year's successful orientation was the result of a year's worth of planning by Imagine's organizers and first-year admitting faculties and programs.

A steering committee of 45 student leaders provided advice and support to the core team of five organizers: student co-chair Chris Koch; student event co-ordinators Tara Learn and Erin Biddlecombe; faculty co-chair Ric Spratley; and Janet Teasdale, UBC first-year co-ordinator in the Office of the Vice-President.

Koch, a fourth-year Mechanical Engineering student, says few undergraduate students go untouched by UBC's largest volunteer effort. This year, an estimated 90 per cent of new undergraduates attended the event.

More than 800 students volunteered for 450 My Undergraduate Group (MUG) leader positions, a 12-month commitment that includes filling 4,500 frosh kits with campus information and providing support and information to new students year round.

In addition, 45 Imagine faculty participate in the student success workshops and another 250 students and staff volunteered to help out on Sept. 4. Koch hopes the enthusiasm of all those involved rubs off on incoming students.

"I hope they go home from the day wanting to go to classes the next day and wanting to get involved on campus themselves," Koch says.

Regular classes were cancelled for the massive orientation session at which volunteers directed new students into one of this year's 450 MUGs for icebreaker activities on Main Mall.

Plans for the day included student success workshops and meet-your-dean sessions followed by a lunchtime round of MUGlympics, organised by the fraternities and sororities and the Intramural program. An Imagine UBC pep rally at the War Memorial Gym rounded out the day.

Paul Tennant, director of the Arts Faculty's Foundations Program for first-year students and an Imagine faculty organizer, encourages students to get involved with the interactive orientation effort.

"It's fun, but it's so apparent to me that an important but invisible benefit is the leadership training students are getting," Tennant says. "Imagine allows them to grow in hands-on ways and they gain both intellectual and practical skills."

Another long-term benefit of joining the Imagine training program, Tennant says, is that students come to view their university as more than a place of study.

"In the long run, this will produce alumni with a greater connection to their alma mater," Tennant says. "It's a small but important part of building the UBC community."

Imagine activities continue tomorrow with the Main Event carnival featuring 100 interactive booths showcasing student life. The carnival takes place in MacInnes Field from 1-4 p.m. and will be followed at 6 p.m. by a concert featuring rock band Wide Mouth Mason hosted by the AMS Firstweek Program.


Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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