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Students Welcome with Flags of Different Countries
In an echo of the traditional flag procession at Commencement, volunteers from the incoming student class took part in a new ceremony at the Welcome Breakfast, carrying the flags of their countries of citizenship in procession to the Morse Building to place them along the building’s balcony.

There was no need for ice-breakers at the Middlebury Institute’s New Student Welcome Breakfast, as the incoming class of 416 students from 45 countries took care of that on its own. The conversation was already flowing easily when Director of Student Life Ryan Kasmier welcomed the group and suggested some topics of discussion for students to explore with each other.

Dean of Enrollment, Advising and Student Services Rebecca Henriksen told assembled group of new students that they gave her renewed hope for the future. “Very few people have the opportunity that is ahead of you right now – the opportunity to intensely focus your time and energy on learning and preparing for the career – and life – you want.” She added words of encouragement: “You have a choice to make right now – you get to choose how to approach your time here. Since you’ve made the decision to do this – and it was a really good decision – I encourage you to completely dive in. Take advantage of as many of the opportunities that present themselves as you can. If you want to, you can choose to reinvent yourself. Dig deep into the courses you will take, really get to know your faculty, get involved in clubs and organizations, perform in the MIIS Follies, have a booth at the International Bazaar, get to know as many of your classmates as possible, attend events and speaker series – go for it! A famous old Eleanor Roosevelt quotes says it well: ‘Do one thing every day that scares you.’”

Students from many of the countries represented in this incoming class participated in a new event at the Welcome Breakfast that has deep connections with old traditions. Volunteers held the flags of their countries of citizenship, shared their names and country with the group and then walked in procession over to the Morse Building to place their flags along the building’s front balcony. For decades the national flags of all current students have been placed on the Morse Building, and the new flag ceremony helps bring that tradition to life for the new class of entering students. In many ways it also marks the beginning of the journey of graduate school that will culminate with the joyous flag procession at Commencement.

Students also took part in community-building activities designed to provide an opportunity for new, incoming students to start making connections among themselves by sharing some of their background and experiences that brought them to the Institute. “The activities allow the new students to gain a purposeful first impression of the professional, experiential and cultural diversity of their new community,” said Kasmier.

As part of the community-building activities, new students shared six-word biographies with their small groups. A small sampling of these illustrates the breadth of experience, goals and dreams that comprise the Middlebury Institute’s fall 2016 incoming class:

  • Born Here Studied There Would Again
  • Leave the Shelter for the Storm
  • Creole Jamaican Ghanaian Ethiopian Melting Pot
  • Navy Cancer Loss French Travel Life
  • American by Birth Brazilian by Heart
  • Adventurous Couple Plus Dog Seek Life
  • Small Car Packed Full New Rhythm
  • Two Hour Drive Twenty Year Journey

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Jason Warburg

Eva Gudbergsdottir