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Last weekend, many students shared their Bucknell experience with their parents and families as they participated in a wide range of events and activities together. Family Weekend is a time for connection, but what about students who don't have visitors?
That's the questions that Multicultural Student Services (MSS) Ambassador Carolina Cormack '15 asked during a group planning session last spring. She recognized that it can be a lonely weekend for students if their parents or family can't visit because they live too far away, have other obligations or can't afford to make the trip. "I'm from Los Angeles and a lot of us who are from far away just kind of hang out with each other during Family Weekend," she said.
Cormack wanted to start a new event for students like her during Family Weekend. Her idea took shape with the help of other MSS Ambassadors and MSS Director Vincent Stephens, who brought it to parents and family programs and international student services. The staff in both departments thought it was a great idea, and Home Away from Home was established.
"Our campus community is a family, and we want Family Weekend to be inclusive. Unfortunately, not all parents are able to attend, and this event offers an opportunity for all students to be involved and share their Bucknell experience," said Parent Outreach Program Manager Aleece Drumm.
Jennifer Figueroa, director of International Student Services, saw this as an opportunity to update Bucknell's long-running program linking international students with local families, called the International Friendship Program. By combining their first event with Home Away from Home, students meet with their hosts earlier and during a weekend when they especially miss their families.
On Friday afternoon as Family Weekend began, students came together with Bucknell faculty, staff and other local families to get to know each other. They met at the event and spent time together over the weekend, and those in the International Friendship Program started a relationship that can last throughout a students' time at Bucknell and beyond.
The Parents Board donated t-shirts and snacks, and MSS and ISS provided gift bags for students and picture frames for families. The Craft Center staff ran activities, which included a station for them to write postcards home. By all accounts, the event was a success, and those involved hope that it will grow next year.
"I'm glad that the University is listening to student voices," said Cormack, "and acting on our ideas to make being a student at Bucknell a better experience for everyone."