Finding community in a cappella
I grew up in a small town where most people were no more than one degree of separation from each other. The same people I was in kindergarten with followed me to high school, so while relationships fluctuated, my friend group was mostly solidified in middle school. When I transferred to arts school after my sophomore year of high school (though most were new to me in this two-year residential institution of 120 students), it was quite easy for me to find a community due to the small student population and time spent together outside of class.
Community has always meant a great deal to me, so I was understandably nervous coming into Dartmouth. For perspective, there is only one other person from Mississippi in my entire class of about 1,200 students, and I didn't even know her before my area Dartmouth Club's welcome party. I'm a fairly extroverted individual, so finding friends was a mostly painless and enjoyable process. Though many come to campus knowing more students (as in more than one) than I did coming into Dartmouth, everyone I met was generally happy to expand their social circle.
I've also become involved with a few organizations on campus, but one in particular has been particularly impactful: my a cappella group, The Dartmouth Aires. Though I’ve been in some form of choir for most of my life, I've never been in an a cappella group. However, I was convinced to give it a shot because of the thriving community for performance groups on campus (and a cappella specifically) here at Dartmouth. After an approximately 18 hour audition process (9+ groups hold joint auditions across two days according to gender), I was a newly minted Dartmouth Aire.
I had little idea what that would entail at the time. Though some benefits (such as trips to China, France, and Switzerland, or the chance to perform before First Lady Michelle Obama at a campaign rally) were more tangible, finding a community so early into freshman year has really shaped my Dartmouth experience. For starters, I’ve made some of my closest friends on this campus (and in life) because of the group. I also had immediate access to upperclassmen who provided me with knowledge on everything from choosing a dining plan to figuring out classes which classes I should take. Although singing (and specifically a cappella, though I've grown to love it) is not for everyone, there are dozens of organizations on campus that provide enriching experiences worthy of your time. Most of these student groups (including my own) will take part in the Activities Fair this month during Dimensions, and I encourage you to come. I'm not just saying that because it'd be great to meet some of you... though that is an added bonus.