An inside look at the hearts and hands behind welcome week
By Jaimee Hood and Molly Korzenowski
Marisa Griner, a welcome week crew coordinator and senior, waved triumphantly as a car pulled up in front of freshman hill on move-in day Aug. 23. Standing in the road with a black headset and a smile, Griner is where she is supposed to be.
Until a golf cart sweeps her away to the west parking lot.
Although move-in day activities officially started Aug. 22, Bethel students have been preparing since the application process began last November. Crew members worked 150 hours in just the last two weeks, Griner said. With three event coordinators, eight committee heads and over 60 crew members, students and faculty leaders worked hard to create a comfortable move-in atmosphere for freshman.
Crew member Abigail Goetzman said a lot of praying got her through the long hours of preparation with a smile on her face.
Logan Lasley rolled across the road near the freshman dorms decked out in a lion suit, roller blades and sunglasses. Crew members all wearing the official welcome week t-shirt jumped up and down to upbeat music.
The cheers emanating from freshman dorms were so loud the sound carried all the way to North Village.
“It’s the craziest, best day ever,” Griner said.
According to Griner, this year the Welcome Week crew put together an app which told new Bethel students the information they needed to know for their first couple of days on campus. The app eliminates the need for paper schedules and offers a tool impossible for a frazzled freshman to lose – relieving a bit of stress from the crew as well.
As the day moved along, the energy of crew members never died. As students checked in, blue-shirted staff could be spotted throughout Brushaber Commons answering questions, directing freshmen to take their ID photos and chatting with family members.
Nursing major and Welcome Week staffer Julia Ek said she needed “a little bit of coffee and a whole lot of Jesus” to keep her energy up throughout the day.
Around 4:30 p.m., students filed into Benson Great Hall for the first freshman kickoff session. Welcome Week crew members rushed down the aisles and between seats, shouting and cheering with the same enthusiasm that welcomed the first van to arrive that morning. They performed a special Welcome Week song complete with coordinated dances and an ode to one staff member’s biceps.
Goetzman’s eyes lit up immediately when thinking back on her own freshman Welcome Week.
“All the staff made me feel so welcome and at home,” she said.
She made it one of her goals as a crew member to replicate that experience for both the very first and very last students to arrive on campus.
For Griner, Welcome Week is more than just a way to greet new students — it’s a yearly event that unites Bethel’s community and gives a representation of Jesus’ love.
“I think it’s just a really beautiful glimpse of the way that Jesus welcomes us home,” Griner said.
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