Gloria Berner, an incoming freshman at the University of Washington, is commuting to school and wondered if she would miss out on opportunities to make new friends. Until she heard about a new program at Hillel.
“The UW is such a huge place, with classes of 450 people. I wanted to get involved in a smaller group and make friends with a common interest,” Gloria said. This fall for the first time the Hillel Foundation for Jewish Campus Life at the University of Washington and the University of Washington Jewish Studies Department hosted FreshFest, a program for incoming freshmen like Gloria.
FreshFest allowed 15 new students to meet other incoming Jewish freshmen, learn about Hillel, the university and the Jewish Studies Department and move into the dorms before Yom Kippur and regular move-in. The freshmen were joined by upperclassmen on the morning of Sept. 25 for breakfast.
The freshmen had help moving into the dorms, were taken to buy supplies and then returned to Hillel to attend a sample seminar/class given by Joel Migdal, a professor in the Jewish Studies Department. In the evening, community building continued with programs facilitated by the Hillel staff and a bonfire on the beach at Whidbey Island. The next morning the students returned to Seattle, some heading home for Yom Kippur services and others attending services at Hillel.
Gloria found FreshFest a great place to meet other students starting out just like her. “I know people now. I can talk to people, and not just sit in the corner.” She went on to explain that some of the girls she met at FreshFest were in her chemistry class, so she sits with them during her 450-person class.