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W&M welcomes new students to campus with smiles, cheers and helping hands

  • Supporting cast
    Supporting cast  Student volunteer orientation aides enthusiastically cheered and chanted as new students moved into the dorms at William & Mary on Aug. 25.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • Giving direction
    Giving direction  New this year were specific driving route maps for each dorm, which were supported by student volunteers with signs along the way as new students moved into the dorms at William & Mary on Aug. 25.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • Carrying on
    Carrying on  New students, family members, student volunteers and staff all helped carry belongings from vehicle to dorm as new students moved into campus housing at William & Mary on Aug. 25.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • Traveling not so light
    Traveling not so light  New students brought a wide of belongings, from the practical to the personal, as they moved into the dorms at William & Mary on Aug. 25.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • Presidential visit
    Presidential visit  William & Mary President Taylor Reveley greeted new students and their families as the class of 2021 and transfer students moved into the dorms on Aug. 25.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • Making the transition
    Making the transition  Vehicles were unloaded at the curb as student volunteers helped new students and their families move into the dorms at William & Mary on Aug. 25.  
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As his hallmates filled in the rooms around his, Charlie Yang made a fitting comment.

“Such a memorable day,” said Yang, a freshman who had arrived alone three days earlier from China and settled himself in Hunt Hall.

He got plenty of company as the William & Mary community welcomed the class of 2021 to campus Friday. Freshmen and transfer students moved into dorms and reported for orientation in preparation for classes starting Aug. 30.

{{youtube:medium:right|AroOJCE6WW4, Move-in day}}

“It’s going to be hard to leave my dog and my parents, obviously, but hopefully I’ll be fine,” said Dana Armstrong ’21, whose parents drove with her from Berryville, Virginia, to move her into Taliaferro Hall. “I’m excited. I just like the small (town) life, and it’s so gorgeous here.”

Outside Jefferson Hall, Ricky Lee ’21 prepared to say goodbye to his parents before they drove seven hours back to New York.

“It’s out of my comfort zone and very far away from home, even further than I have been going to boarding school,” Lee said. “So it’s mixed emotions, excited but also a little bit nervous about certain things.”

Student volunteers in purple “Sweating for You” T-shirts unloaded vehicles and helped carry belongings into dorms while music pumped and orientation aides clad in neon yellow chanted and cheered. A rousing rendition, with dance moves, of “don’t drop that mini-fridge, don’t drop that mini-fridge, hey!” was heard outside of Jefferson Hall.

The usual mélange of microwaves, bagged comforters and plastic bins was broken up by the occasional Keurig, vacuum cleaner or set of golf clubs. Upperclassmen who went through the move-in drill in earlier years helped freshmen who will follow after them in these duties.

“My freshman year, I saw a lot of people doing that, and I wanted to somehow get involved with that,” said Ahnisa Klu, a junior in her second year as part of the move-in crew. “It helped a lot my freshman year. I was right at Jefferson and I was on the first floor, so I didn’t have a lot of trouble. But it was still nice to have people helping me move stuff in.

“When you see that first friendly face helping you, it just gives you a little bit of relief.”

University officials welcomed 1,544 freshmen into nine residence halls, and checked in for orientation 179 transfer students, 26 exchange students and 14 University of St. Andrews Joint Degree Programme host students, according to Lauren Garrett, director of first year experience. Assisting with all of that moving and orienting was an orientation staff consisting of 233 student leaders, 10 of whom served as area directors.

Armstrong’s parents, Van and Barbara, noted how quickly their car was unloaded. She was more emotional than he about leaving Dana, their only child. Barbara Armstrong said she would feel sad on the ride back home, but very proud of her daughter, who will study English and dance.

“The fact that she’s got a direction that she wants to go and has found a school that fits her, I think, that’s pretty amazing to me,” Van Armstrong said.

New this fall were specific driving move-in routes for each residence hall, which were available on an app or online, according to Garrett. Developed by a cross-section of the campus community last spring, the customized routes were designed to disperse traffic coming into, traveling on and parking on campus.

Aides held up signs for each color all along the routes and assisted any puzzled drives who stopped to ask questions. One young man, holding a sign for the blue route early in the morning, broke out some serious dance moves on the corner of Jamestown Road and Ukrop Way.

Sophomore Zoe Nelson, waving a sign for the orange route on Jamestown Road, said she was excited because her orientation last year was still fresh in her mind.

“This is really a community, and this is what sets the tone for the entire year,” Nelson said. “It can be a hard transition for a lot of people—so giving people space where they feel safe, where they feel comfortable talking about things that they want to, and feel that not just now but through the rest of the year.

“They have people they can talk to if they have any concerns or if they want someone to hang out with. So really showing them that talking about Tribe pride and being a community isn’t just something for a pamphlet. It's really what people believe here.”

Yang said a trip to Target helped supplement the clothing and other belongings he brought with him on the 40-hour plane trip from China. He hadn’t been to the W&M campus until starting the international student orientation three days earlier, and smiled about the prospects for the coming school year.

“I really love it,” he said. “I think I’m going to love this place, and it’s going to be like a second home.”