Nervous hands. Brand new badges. Big eyes. But bigger yet: the smiles.
It’s 15:11, the programme started a whole 71 minutes ago and there is a steady, ever-growing trickle of students as they shuffle into the reception to sign in with Marie-Angélique. The campus is slowly but surely starting to buzz with life. Chatter is rousing up in the corners, snapchat names are being swapped over the tables and hands are being shook (some a little firmly than others) all over campus. It’s one of those days where it doesn’t matter that the sun isn’t shining because people are brightening up the place all on their own.
It’s now 16:43 and it looks as if the bulk of the students have arrived. Some parents are still lingering as the counsellors are gently trying to nudge them out the door with a little “travel home safely” and a super subtle *cough,cough*. Other than that, the counsellors are playing private-tour guides as well as the most diligent luggage lackeys as we guide the last of the arriving students to their rooms. Our phones aren’t as busy now, but they’re still vibrating with the occasional:
“Julia, come to the reception – one of your students is here.”
2 min later: “Julia hurry up – another kid is here”
1 min later: “Guillaume, there’s another student here – think he’s yours?”
It’s good fun really, meeting the student from your own dormitory room, showing them to their humble abode, and getting them all settled in – a claiming ritual of sorts where we all get to play momma bear for a little while. Here’s a picture of all 10 momma/dadda-bears ready to meet their INSEADcubs:
Meanwhile the students have already begun to unfold. They’re playing table football, pulling out their utmost creative thoughts to win points on the almighty scavenger hunt (and there is a prize to be won people!) and ceaselessly mingling across the borders of nationality and language.
At 18:00 o’clock all the students gathered for the first time in the Amphi B for their welcome hosted by the great Adrian Johnson and the legendary deputy dean, Peter Zemsky. They all sat very attentively (with the exception of those with jetlag – these guys were a little more droopy in posture) as they listened to the run through of the upcoming agenda as well as the rules and general briefing on do’s and don’ts. They then had a task where they all had to group together in their nationalities and stand in line in the order of ranking GDP’s – so their position was based on the GDP of their home country. It was chaotic, for sure, but also a learning experience. Students got to know a little sum’n sum’n about GDPs as well as practice keeping their chill in a loud room full of disoriented people. All in all, they did surprisingly well on the task at hand.
Then came dinner and the rumbling stomachs finally made their peace with the world and fell quiet. There was pleasant conversation, a constant hum in the background and we counsellors felt very confident in sitting at our own table because all the participants were, well, participating, on their own – no help needed on this front. #socialites #busybees #chatterboxes
After dinner the participants were sent into their YFCD groups, where they got to meet their fantabulous counsellors (such as myself 🙂 ). They were tasked with a few icebreaking games – shoutout to teams Puma and Serval (flying colours to you all!) – and were then let off for the evening. They were seen roaming the campus and playing table football as well as ping pong. A football match was also in the works and all those not playing games were clustered in groups, thick with friendly banter.
By the time 22:30 came along, I think it’s fair to say there was no problem getting people to bed – an hour later as I write this they’re probably all sound asleep, lulled to bed by the clicks and hum of the soothing airconditioning and by a reassurance that – with all the social activity we saw today – every single one of them will leave with the closest of friends in a fortnight’s time.
Goodnight to you all.