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‘Secret Agents’ Welcome Frosh to Institute

By Michelle Nyein

Orientation 2007 kicked off on Saturday with Nicholas J. Fahey ’05, one of the Orientation Coordinators, rollerblading onto the stage of Kresge Auditorium. Freshmen were then introduced to the other Orientation Coordinators, also known as Secret Agents: Ivana L. Sturdivant ’04, Jonathan G. Wu ’06, Elizabeth A. Witham ’05, and Zachary M. Eisenstat ’06.

With the James Bond 007 theme, “Mission Orientation” began with a video of the secret agents training to orient the class of 2007. The video included depictions of the secret agents rock climbing and attending classes on “How to Get the Girl.”

The opening ceremonies were the first in a series of Orientation activities. Orientation Leader Sarah E. Poulsen ’04 said, “This year’s Orientation activities are a good mix of random, silly things and meaningful events.”

“I was surprised, in a good way,” said David Arana ’07. “You come here and think it’s going to be academic, but you see these guys goofing off on stage.”

“They did a good job of integrating freshmen with coordinators,” said Trevor T. Chang ’07.

“What’s unbelievable is how organized and welcoming Orientation is,” said Elizabeth V. Stephanopoulos ’07.

Agents offer Klondike bars

During the opening ceremonies, Orientation coordinators led freshmen through a series of games. In one activity, four freshmen were called on stage to participate in an obstacle course after spinning around seven times. In another activity, freshmen performed unusual acts, such as cartwheels, spinning books, and tying cherry stems in knots with their tongues, to earn Klondike bars. For his Klondike bar, David W. Rush ’07 impersonated Gollum from Lord of the Rings. For his efforts, Rush received a standing ovation.

“I liked the Klondike bar part,” said Cathlene M. Allard ’07. “Everything’s been creative and interesting so far.”

Benedict offers ‘thrival’ tips

Seeking guidance for their mission, the Orientation coordinators called Larry G. Benedict, the “Numero Uno,” also known as the Dean for Student Life, for help. He offered the audience “Three Little Tips for Survival and Thrival at MIT,” which included living a balanced life, reaching out and connecting with someone older, and getting enough sleep.

Benedict ended with a quote from Dr. Seuss: “And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! Ninety-eight and three-quarters percent guaranteed.”

Orientation groups meet

Following the opening ceremonies, the freshmen broke into Orientation groups. Some Orientation leaders led their groups through various ice-breakers, such as the Name Game, the Human Knot, Ride the Pony, Red Rover, and Two Truths and a Lie. Other leaders simply dispensed advice and encouraged the freshmen to talk to each other.

Laura C. Harris ’07 said that Two Truths and a Lie helped her “learn a lot of really random things about people.”

“The icebreaker I’m always most excited about is the name game, since it helps you get to know everyone’s name,” said Orientation leader Amado G. Dehoyos ’04.

Others noted that their Orientation groups were less open.

“We’re still a bit shy,” said Hana L. Adaniya ’07.

The icebreakers were followed by a barbecue, which allowed freshmen and orientation leaders to mingle. “Dinner always opens up people’s minds,” said Orientation leader Walter C. Lin ’06. “Free food makes people happy, and when they’re happy they talk.”

The leaders then led the freshmen to Playfair in Johnson. Other activities include a showing of Goldeneye at Kresge Auditorium and the Play Unfair party at Next House.

Upcoming Orientation activities

Orientation leaders and freshmen alike said they looked forward to other Orientation activities. “I’m excited about City Days,” Dehoyos said. It’s always amazing to see MIT pull together 600 people to do community service. It’s incredibly fun when you’re doing community service with 10 or 20 people you know.”

Orientation leader Jennifer L. Fecanin ’05 said, “The time I think is best is when we’re talking. When we make the freshmen comfortable, they can ask honest questions, which is the most useful.”

Of her MIT experience so far, Crystle J. Kelly ’07 said, “It’s awesome -- I think it’s gorgeous, people are friendly, and this whole place is interesting.”