Today is the last day of the direct from high school New Student Orientation. All week, the SLT Team has been welcoming the incoming Lakers and their supporters. It has been busy and truly gratifying. I have always enjoyed participating in New Student Orientation but this year has been a bit different for me. I think I’m loving it a little bit more actually. I have been able to see it from a new perspective and that truly changed the experience for me.
In the past, I was able to speak with incoming students about their transition and how they were feeling. It has been a few years since I experienced it but I was able to empathize. Speaking with supporters was a different story. I would pull out memories of my parents moving me into residence and the experiences that followed but that was about it.
Six months ago, I was the supporter for a different kind of New Student Orientation when my then 13-month-old son transitioned to the world of academia (i.e. daycare). I had been working my way up to that moment for months. We had visited with the daycare provider, met the other kids in the group, and he had spent a couple of hours there without me. I had done everything the parenting books told me to do, but I was a nervous wreck. The daycare is around the corner from my house and I see my son every single day but I was still completely devastated! All I wanted to know was that he would be safe and that he was cared for and about. My first couple of days back at work after my parental leave were spent holding back tears, stopping myself from calling the daycare, and staring at pictures of him all while trying to transition into a new life of being back to work and all that entails.
I’m just over 6 months in to this transition and it gets a little easier and harder every day. Now, he doesn’t cry when I drop him off, which thrills and kills me at the same time. The baby I dropped off on day one could barely walk and now he’s running, jumping, and “talking”.
I’ve only known this little creature for 19 months so I can’t imagine what it would be like to bring a person you have known for 18 years to a new environment and leave them there. If my son is lucky enough to attend post-secondary school, I think I’ll just be hoping against all hope that the people I’m leaving him with care for and about him and will teach him the skills he needs to contribute something positive to this world.
And so, to the supporters who bring students to Nipissing University over this summer and in September, know that they are cared for and about and that we want to teach them the skills they will need to contribute something positive to this world.