Written by Eneida Bermudez, junior public relations major, and Pablo Ortiz, freshman business major, 2016 Peer Advisors
There are some experiences that you just can’t really understand until you live through them. As two of the 2016 Peer Advisors, we are proud to say we survived the National Orientation Directors Association (NODA) Region VI Conference, otherwise known as the Southern Regional Orientation Workshop (SROW), 2016! SROW is such a unique experience that not many at the university get to participate in.
SROW is an annual conference sponsored by the Association for Orientation, Transition, and Retention that took place at East Carolina University (ECU). The goal is to share knowledge and learn more about the field of orientation, transition and retention from other universities.
Since January, the FIU Peer Advisors spent long hours preparing for this journey by getting ready to participate in the many unique traditions that take place at SROW. This included learning as many chants as we could to promote spirit, as well as creating a team stroll, banner, skit and roll call.
We arrived to SROW in a pack, chanting and whistling, while our blue and gold FIU flag waved proudly in the air. With our hearts full of spirit and a spring in our step, we kicked off the experience, ready to learn more about the field of orientation and interact with fellow student leaders from institutions all over the Southeast.
We performed our “That’s So FIU” skit in front of more than 1,000 people, sharing the highlights and traditions that make FIU special. The first day was a whirlwind. We were told from the start that SROW was a conference experience unlike any other, and that if we didn’t lose our voices at SROW, we didn’t do it right. We quickly found out that was no lie, and beyond the cheering and dancing, there was a lot more to be gained from this experience.
On day two, we really dig in to the opportunity to learn from one another! Our Peer Advisor team attended many different educational programs throughout the day. Several members of our team even led presentations to share some of their areas of interest, such as building school spirit, managing conflict among a team, and working with students who are differently-abled.
We also had the opportunity to participate in a service project that benefitted the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. This part of the experience was really meaningful, realizing that food insecurity can affect any community. It taught us to be more mindful about the many people who struggle with food insecurity in Miami-Dade.
After our team helped fill the service truck to the brim with food and other basic supplies, we headed over to ECU’s recreation center where we had an opportunity to continue to connect with the student leaders from other schools in a less formal setting. Many of us left the conference with a peer at another institution whom we can stay in touch with throughout our orientation experiences.
During the final day of SROW, our team received the first place service award for a large institution for our contributions to The Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. We were all very proud of our hard work to raise money and package hundreds of bags of food for those in need. As we headed back to FIU, we thought about all that we really gained from this amazing trip.
Throughout this experience, we came to realize a lot about our role as Peer Advisors and just how vital orientation is to an individual’s experience at a university.
As Peer Advisors, we are responsible for guiding students through their orientation experiences. We assist with the course registration process, translate university procedures and lingo in a way that makes sense to them, and help them make connections with one another.
Peer Advisors are also role models and friends who offer helpful advice and support throughout students’ transition to FIU! We are the first people they see once they walk on our campus, and we must understand how important it is to treat every student with fairness and decency while making them feel welcome at our institution.
We also recognized that you grow through the Peer Advisor experience by realizing the impact your words and guidance can have on a person. For some students, college is a fresh beginning. Being the first person that may have the biggest impact on a new student’s college career is very fulfilling.
These are the kinds of lessons that cannot be taught in a classroom setting. We are so thankful to have had this incredible opportunity to learn these lessons through our trip to SROW.
For more information on how to become a Peer Advisor, go to the FIU Student Affairs website.