One of my favorite things about William & Mary is our enthusiasm for welcoming others in. I spent much of the last month welcoming students to our programs and offering directions to strangers ambling across campus with map in hand. I have seen students welcome their new peers through Convocation high fives and an offered seat during crowded times at the dining halls.
As we head into October, it can be easy to assume that the time for welcoming is over. But my guess is that you probably didn’t feel fully at home here after only a month.
Five ways to keep the welcoming going:
- Share what’s important to you in the community. Often it’s the little things that people want to know. In my life, that’s sharing which mechanic I go to and that City Square is my new favorite park. For students that might be the least busy times to go to the Rec Center or how to search TribeLink for events with free food.
- Learn people’s names and use them.
- Share a meal. There’s a reason breaking bread is such a common tradition across history — sharing food is a great way to form connections. Invite someone to join you for a meal or just offer a piece of gum.
- Ask them about what they are good at. One of the challenges of coming to a new community is figuring out where you fit in. Welcoming someone by learning their strengths and then suggesting ways to apply those strengths is a great motivator for engagement.
- Make your invitations accessible. It’s wonderful that you want to welcome someone into an activity you enjoy, but take a moment to think about what barriers might keep them from participating. Is there a financial cost? Can they physically engage with the activity? Are they an introvert (like me!) and would find a large gathering exhausting? One of the best ways to welcome inclusively is to offer options or share multiple invitations. Just because someone isn’t up for the first experience you suggest, doesn’t mean they won’t be ready to join you in the next.