Refreshers! 5 tips on how to make your re-freshers a success

“Welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the Glory of God” Romans 15:7

Freshers is such an exciting time to welcome new students and build up a new Catholic community each year… however, our church is here for all students all year round! The beginning of spring term might be a time for you to resume where you left off before Christmas, or it might be the perfect excuse to try new groups and societies. Whatever the event, a Cathsoc shouldn’t be closed and exclusive, but welcoming and open to all.

I am privileged to work at Sunderland University Chaplaincy as the lay chaplain. There are a few post-grad students starting courses this month, so we’re looking forward to welcome new members during ‘Refreshers’. I asked some of our students to share their top tips to welcoming new students…

1. Don’t be afraid, but make the most of the opportunity to be “an ambassador for Christ”

Ruffina is pharmacy student from Nigeria. She’s only been here since September, but has top marks for meeting new students arriving form her country and letting them know about chaplaincy events. Her advice is “We are links in a chain, all of us are already part of the family of God, so make sure everyone is welcome into your community. If you are nervous or feel uncomfortable talking to new people, or if they are difficult to talk to for any reason just ‘Be Still and know’ that God is always with you, and within every person you meet.”

Beatriz, a film and media student from Madeira says “Step out of your comfort zone, learn new things and meet new people! If you are happy and enjoying life to the full as a Catholic student, show it!”

2. Share, learn and let people teach you!

Miurel is from Nicaragua, her tip is “Share with each other! Your language, your culture, your food, your skills and talents. Teach one another something from your home, and learn new things from others too. Even teaching each other a few words in your home language can be a great way for everyone to feel welcome.”

Casmir is a pharmacy student from Nigeria, he agrees and says: “If you are a new student, remember where you’re from, don’t forget your roots and be who you are.” If we are to welcome others, lets be interested in their stories and what they bring.

3. If you’re on committee or planning events…

Grace is a final year physiology student, her tip for Cathsoc committees is to “think outside the box when planning events, but also think of what events you would have gone to when you were new.”

Another tip for Cathsoc committees is to split up during events, don’t spend the whole social just talking to each other, and don’t get cliquey!

4. But it’s not just up to the committee…

Get everyone involved in the “welcoming” – it’s not just a responsibility of the Cathsoc committee, but for us all! Encourage everyone to invite their housemates to socials, to share the social media links or forward email newsletters on if they meet someone who might be interested.

A new member is more likely to return if someone chats to them and remembers their name. Don’t bombard them with information about Cathsoc (obviously invite them to your next event or share your social media page with them) but learn something about them too.

5. Be kind and patient…

Marta is business post-grad from Madeira: “Before I came to England, I heard a stereotype that the English are cold and not welcoming, but that has not been the case for me. I was nervous to speak in English at first too, but if you are patient with others, they are patient with you.”

As well as language, we should always seek patience if others have a different opinion or idea, faith or experience to us. This leads perfectly to our final tip from Gabby, who is in her final year of studying TESOL. “My tip is simple: Accept everyone without judgement, and just be kind!”

What are your top tips to welcoming new students? Add to our list by commenting on our Facebook and Instagram posts…

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