Finding Community at Dartmouth
This summer, I'm in Washington D.C. for Dartmouth's Rockefeller Center First-Year Fellows program, doing a fellowship with the International Finance Corporation. Being away from the Dartmouth's campus and some of my closest friends has given me an opportunity to reflect on the community I was able to find at Dartmouth during this past academic year.
Because of Dartmouth's small size and its small-town location, Dartmouth students spend most of their time on campus, whether they're in a class, in their dorm rooms, at a social event or just grabbing a meal with friends. After a while, you get really comfortable and familiar with the campus and very close to other Dartmouth students, and these people, places and experiences become your community, a home away from home. For me, finding a community was really important; I was in a different country and continent more than 5,000 miles away from home and I had previously attended a boarding school for six years where I had known all my friends for six years! I was very excited to now find a group of people who I could call my community in a new school and a new location. Thankfully, at Dartmouth there are tons and tons of opportunities where you can meet people and find a community.
Firstly, Dartmouth's International Student Orientation, First-Year Trips and New Student Orientation provides such a welcoming atmosphere the minute you step on campus! Once I got to campus, I was welcomed by my international student mentors and placed in a smaller group along with some other international '25s. These were some of the first people I met and became friends from campus, and it was so helpful and comforting to be with other people who shared the same experience of being so far away from home. After that, we started First-Year Trips which was another opportunity to get very close to other Dartmouth students. I remember spending so much time each time with my trippees (aka my trip group mates), from morning hikes to afternoon activities and evening group dinners.
After Trips and orientation ended, I was nervous about making and maintaining friendships, because it seemed like there were no more structured opportunities to meet and connect with other Dartmouth students. However, I quickly realized that at Dartmouth, meeting new people and finding a community surpasses first week orientation activities. I've met my closest friends through classes, social events and extracurriculars and some Dartmouth-sponsored programs.
Classes at Dartmouth are an unexpected way to connect with other Dartmouth students. When I started classes after orientation week, I thought they'd be a purely academic activity, but I met so many amazing people through group projects, office hours and working on problem sets together. In one of my most academically challenging classes that I struggled with the most, I met one of my good friends because we worked on problem sets together each week. I also made a number of friends through identity-based extracurricular groups, such as the Dartmouth African Student Association (DASA).
These are just a few ways that I met the amazing friends I've made at Dartmouth who have enabled me to find a community and see campus as a home away from home.