The day before… Summer has started, yet we’re all still in Berkeley

With the screams of joy and/or pain that Finals cause on campus still fresh in my mind, I sit back to hit the keyboard again! Funny, its the first day of summer! We all survived finals (some better than other of course) but, for 48 students, the work is just starting! Yes indeed, it’s Camp CalSO move-in tomorrow at 3:00 sharp, Unit 3 Cleary Hall. I’m sure there are times in every counselor’s life when he wonders why he didn’t just sign up for the sleeping team instead of this CalSO thing *wink wink*.

Let’s look back over last semester from a CalSO viewpoint.
Everything started, really started, with the weekend retreat. I believe the motivation behind the retreat was to get the group comfortable with each other, start those CalSO ties that keeps the summer together. Definitely we all started learning new names at lightning speed. The highlights of the weekend were many. Theodore (ahem… T-Ko) gave his Identity Circle talk, which deeply touched me. I got to know a whole bunch of people – Dustin, Elmar, Seema, Mike, Tyler, Lyell, Eva, Crazy Russian Nadya, etc etc the list goes on. I sat down opposite the girl who was going on about Cunts during lunch (that’s how I met seema) and I met Sam after I gushed about Red Hot Chili Peppers. We had a fantastic little hike, and we made the cool web at the end of the program. I’m sure we all left with the beginnings of close ties and friendships forming. This is, after all, what a team needs, right?

The semester itself flew past in CalSO terms. Classes and presentations for about 2 months in everything about the university – housing, dining, health services, financial aid, extention program, admissions, DSP program – and all the basics of being a good counselor – public speaking, taking and giving critisizm, good customer service, HOSERR.
We all had our Field Yield ‘training’ assignments where we went out and did the whole CalSO thing – talk to new students, put up Q&A Panels, give directions, get people excited about Cal, and so forth. Then, BOOM! Camp CalSO coming up!

The question is, of course, did all these assignments and activities prepare us for the next two weeks of intensive training and the summer’s programs to come? In most cases, I believe the answer is a resounding YES! The manner in which training was done, and the organization of the classes, prepared us mentally for situations where you work as a professional individual as representative of the university. The presentations and information distribution that followed gave us 80% of the information we need that students wants to know. There is only one category in which I would like to add some training – giving students the questions they don’t know they should be asking. Sounds weird, sure, but you can only ask a question if you know about something. I know my CalSO experience last summer when I came to Cal answered all my questions through and through, but I learnt the most from other people’s questions that I never thought to ask, or had to do some guessing as to what they were talking about. I would add a class in answering questions the students are NOT asking, yet needs to know. There is, of course, a very very big problem with this approach – you don’t know these new admits at all, and to know what they ‘should’ be asking is an impossible task. Still, I feel that there is a certain set of questions that never comes up, and that students does not think of, yet is great if answered.

Coming to University, especially Cal, is an overwhelming experience, and often because students worry about the wrong things. Housing is a major concern, yet the University streamlines the whole process so well, and all the roommate issue worries are unfounded 95% of the time. I remember I had this constant worry of where to get food when I came to Cal – c’mon there’s more eateries in and around Cal than I have fingers and toes. The mental change to come to College is not nearly as well addressed, though. The atmosphere at Cal has so ment dimensions that it often seems as if mutually exclusive ideas are jammed together into this big crazy ball of confusion for new students.

Of course, to make this a ‘successful’ post, I now need to share my ideas for righting this situation and converying the moral and emotional pressures and changes that Cal brings about. Yet, sadly, I hardly have a solution or even a suggestion at this moment. It’s a very difficult idea to bring accross, and it is very much specific to each student. And, in the socialist spirit of Cal… well, if its just you, just deal with it!
I believe it is addressed to an extend with all the emphasis put on creating your own support group as soon as possible. I believe Camp CalSO will also focus on the more slippery issues of handing new admits.

I will try to keep posting regular updates during Camp CalSO and the programs to see how my perception of these ideas change.

Peace!

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