My spring has been hectic to say the least, but in the best kind of way. This was due to (outside of school work) the play I was in, and the JA preparation I have been doing. The play was called "Bersama, That’s Part of it" and was a Seniors Honors thesis in Theatre and Anthropology. It was a series of Vignettes in which we strove to portray the differences and similarities of friendship cross-culturally. The director of the enterprise was Meaghan Rose Donnelly who had spent a semester abroad in Bali and developed this thesis there. She wound up receiving Highest Honors in the theatre department and High Honors in the Anthropology department as a result of all of her hard work in preparing us (her actors) for the performance that ultimately earned her these distinguished marks.
But what about the second thing that filled my spring hours, what is JA training you might ask? Well, Williams is unique in (among other ways) its freshman housing system. We have something called an entry system. In this system each freshman is placed in one of 26 entries in which the freshman identify with their immediate neighbors in their own entry. It is a huge factor in freshman life because it not only serves as an identifier as to who you live with but also where you live and who your JA’s are. Entries are divided by floor and building in one dorm (Mission) and by building section in the other (Frosh Quad). There are around 20 freshmen in each of these sections which all come with one male and one female Junior Advisor (JA). The JAs are meant to guide the freshman but also to be their support system.
This winter I applied to become a JA, a non-paid position, in order to help freshman adjust to Williams life, and to create a strong community within a set space and a diverse group of people in that space. I applied because I had a great entry experience and I hope to give that to more people as it greatly influences students’ love of the school. Long story short, two other sophomores on the hockey team and I were selected. We were ecstatic that none of us had been waitlisted or rejected and we were set about going to the meetings that would lead us to our ultimate end, a CO.
One of the most stressful yet rewarding parts of being a JA is finding your CO and in the process "dating" all the members of the opposite sex to find a good match. During the first week of dating you go on as many dates as possible (ideally 26 but not everyone can fit them all in). You cannot say no to a first date. Generally they are meetings over a meal but you can also just sit and talk or go cool places (rivers, rooftops) or what me and my CO did, go on a tour as prospective students.
After that week the stress switches from time constraint to rejection. You can only have five second dates, and you can say no to people. This forces the class to narrow down their list and get another chance to talk with people who really struck you as awesome.
After this week you submit a list, only to the selection committee, ranking your top five. You are likely to get someone in your top three but it doesn’t always happen. Then…you wait…
Later that night a list comes out with all the CO pairs and (if you are me) you are ecstatic and enthusiastic about the future of your entry (my CO is awesome).
Then we sit and wait (or study and slave in the library) until JA training. this is a process where we all come together as a group after the school year has ended and get three days to get to know our CO’s and the rest of our JA class while we go to workshops and seminars and play games. We also get to talk a lot with the JA Advisory Board (part of Selection Committee, but all JAs) and they share their best and worst moments as well as some of their Dos and Don’ts in entry life.
So now I sit at my computer, a little bored after all this excitement, and look forward to the summer workout I will be getting tomorrow, but also toward the list of 20 names I will be receiving in about two months of who I will be living with as a JA. Can you say Facebook stalking?