The time was about two thirty, the meeting was to take approximately two hours, and as tradition, I had to go in with the expectation that it would be concluded approximately around four thirty or about then. I had to attend and arranged for the setting of the meeting with the international students. At the same time, I was given the responsibility to choose but thought it wise to represent my university campus in the USA. It was not what anyone could accurately design or chose a public space but a rather semi-private small room that was more considerable, and designed to put at ease both those who would prefer private space and those who would prefer meeting in a public space. As I walked into the room, it suddenly got filled with anxiety and clamors from the students. The students consisted of those who had completed their undergraduate classes and those still pursuing their undergraduate courses. From the look of things, they seemed so at ease with each other’s presence. One would be forgiven for mistakenly assuming they have been together as a class for years or a considerable period. Everyone seemed to know each other or somehow eager to discover what the other person sitting next was all about and which part of the world they were from. The attendees consisted of Americans. Others from various parts of the world. One could not help but also notice the diversity of age, sex and races of the attendees of the meeting. At first, glance, at one corner was a middle-aged man of African descent with a well shaved gleaming bald head who seemed taken into engaging others who appeared a typically pure white young white man seemingly of Irish origin given his ascent, and age of somehow in his early twenties and seemed to be struggling to stroke his beard. Personally, I am an undergraduate student in my final year taking his final semester in the campus purposely to graduate at the end of the semester assuming all issues are sorted.
As one of the facilitators of the group, I was socially involved in the organization and process of the session, having being an insider. I was therefore given the responsibility of taking newcomers to the campus for trips and orientation in the institution, I am also required to collect systematically diverse and varied types of data through techniques such as observation, conversation, and engaging the attendees in a lot of textual study together in within the class, both undergraduate and graduates mixed up together. These are part of the intellectual and interpersonal skills that the program is designed to initiate, develop and strengthen for participant, at the beginning, to me it seemed quite a load of work to get myself fully involved with other in the class given my shy nature and slow ability to click an immediate effective rapport with strangers in a social situation such as this, coupled with the observation I had made initially that almost I was the only one that came alone, all the other participants came in pairs or small groups or so I noticed . In effect, I took a few moments to lay back, observe the environment and make myself at home first. From a quick count and estimation of the attendees, the total number in the room was roughly a total of fifteen, both men and women, comprising of both Americans and international students from all over the world clearly evidenced by the extremely varied and diversity in the dressing modes from one person to another that was present.
The main facilitator of the meeting was a young American lady, with blonde hair falling on her neck with rather unusually thick eyebrows that was commendably exquisitely dressed for the occasion in a fitting gray suit that matched her shoes. To begin the meeting, she made to call the meeting to order a few minutes past two thirty. Moreover, for a starter, she suggested led us in a mini icebreaking ceremony that involved sharing a cup of coffee, which we did as pairs, with the strong insistence that each pair comprised of different nationalities.
Next in the program was the introduction part, where each member had to introduce themselves, I was a bit shy and scared at first at this prospect especially given other people seemed to know already each other while I came alone. Then there was the conversion and textual study phase that we did in groups of threes or fours, I have to admit this proved to one challenging part as much as it turned out to be rather amazingly fun end enjoyable, adjusting the different accents carried by each individual I interacted with in the groups particularly I can point out to have been the biggest of all the challenges I had, at one moment I would be listening and straining to understand a reading from this individual with deep Nigerian accent and the next would be from a young British with a typical British accent who carried himself around a commendable with an aura and feeling of self-worth and pride.
As the meeting progressed, once in a while other facilitators from other classes seemed to be enjoying popping by to say hello to our group, taking their time to share their own experiences briefly in their classes, their expectations and some, who were not native Americans themselves, on their own individual experiences as ethnology students as newcomers and how the program helped them hit the ground running on the campus.
At the beginning of every academic year on this campus, as traditionally has occurred, a meeting of international students is organized where they are helped and given the opportunity to join the various volunteer programs initiated in the institution. These meetings are designed to facilitate ease of transition, interaction, sharing and spreading of the various diverse and different cultures from the different countries that the students bring with them to the campus.
This meeting thus, too had a specific purpose to ensure and enhance the personal and academic experience of the students through a well-organized ethnographic study activity that would ensure that as they get back to campus from the field, to assist them integrate their outfield experience with the academic work they are engaged in.
The facilitator in effort to stick to the purpose of the program during the meeting as have been designed by the institution, seemed to have made it her personal goal to make the meeting as interactive and involving as possible, ensuring she took to definitely in order to ensure by the end all the involved felt at home and at ease to act and react to various situations that would arise in the future.
She pointed out, as other facilitators in the previous sessions I had attended too also seemed keen to stress, the value and importance of a high, and holistic understanding as much as possible among the students especially given the diversity in their backgrounds. Attendees were told to ensure that during their learning process in the campus not ever to underestimate the complexity of daily life and the accompanying valuable experiences that may not seem obvious or significant at first but that then, as in the end, its these little clues that will always turn out to be the most vital thus insistence on the need to constantly check and verify any and every possible direction and possible viable options probably on the issues and challenges they would face in their time here.
Key concepts required in the campus, I noted from the proceedings, included fieldwork methods, efficient research ethics, the ability of interpretation of concepts, and other factors that may be considered important such as personal skills to engage with fellow academics and the environment in which the attendees would operating in, having been some of the most emphasized subject matters during the meeting by the facilitator.
As meeting drew close to conclusion, strength in working together, cooperation, and consultation notably were some of the areas that the facilitator took much time to stress on for the attendees, who rather seemed to excel on this field as the as could be clearly noted evidently from their lively one on one interaction and the animated discussions they engaged in.
We then took time and cleaned up the room and arranged chairs in an orderly manner after we finished since in our activities, we were constantly shifting the chairs from point of the room to another in the interaction process, a process that was well and efficiently punctuated and decorated with a lot of chapters and clamors, appreciably even from those of us like me who at the beginning were bit having low feeling of sense of belonging to the group.