Orientation Week 2019 kicked off August 26 for NYU Shanghai’s Class of 2023 with an all-class University Welcome, followed by a packed calendar of seminars, dialogues ... and fun. In addition to class-bonding favorites such as the Fun Olympics and the talent showcase NYU Shanghai’s Got Talent, this year’s schedule also featured new residential group activities and expanded elective workshop offerings including tips for better writing, yoga, travel planning, and art therapy. Here are some snapshots from a week that just flew by. A sea of violet-clad first years settle in for welcome remarks presented by Chancellor Yu Lizhong, Vice Chancellor Jeff Lehman, and Provost Joanna Waley-Cohen at the August 26 University Welcome. “Communities don’t just come into being – you have to work on them. They take time and effort to construct,” Waley-Cohen said in her address. Led by upper-class Orientation Ambassadors (OAs), members of the Class of 2023 show their spirit during a round of the traditional Chinese dart-throwing game, touhu (投壶)--an NYU Shanghai ‘Fun Olympics’ tradition. The 434 first year students branched off into small groups, each led by one of 36 Orientation Ambassadors. The OAs are experienced NYU Shanghai students who applied and were selected to help new students adjust to the campus’s unique cultural and linguistic environment by sharing their own struggles and successes. Students take their teamwork outside and put their jump rope skills to the test in more Fun Olympics team-building activities. Orientation Ambassador Stephanie Scaglia ’22 poses with her group of first years, who named themselves the “Jad3 T3am.” For new students, many of whom chose NYU Shanghai because of its multicultural community, the best part of orientation was getting to know their peers. “I’ve been surprised by how open everyone is,” said Aadi Rajkumar ’23 from Guam. “When you’re meeting so many new people, it can be easy to be closed off, but everybody has been so real. It’s really allowed me to be myself. That’s part of why NYU Shanghai is my dream school.” The First Year Dialogues (FYD) – a series of small group discussions led by upper-class Orientation Ambassadors – have been a crucial part of the bonding experience for new students. “The first FYD, Life Maps, has been the most enjoyable activity for my students so far,” says OA Christina Bowllan ’22. “During this session, students draw a ‘map’ of their life that reflects on successful and challenging moments they have gone through so far. It has been a great reflection process that has allowed students to learn about each other and connect on a deeper level.” Members of the Class of 2023 race to find out more about their new classmates in the First Year Dialogue activity “Social Identities,” where students are encouraged to think about identity in many layers from individual personality to cultural and social background. The First Year Dialogue continues throughout the first month of the semester and is designed to give students the tools to create their own community and support networks, said Shelly Lu, Assistant Director of New Student & Diversity Programs. NYU Shanghai’s Got Talent! Students sang, danced, and performed instrumental pieces for their peers. Our first years showed mastery of a variety of instruments including piano and the traditional Chinese zither, or guzheng. As part of Orientation Week’s community service program, Sheng Kexin (盛可欣 )’23 volunteered on campus to teach children about garbage sorting. “As a first year at NYU Shanghai, this experience gave me a strong sense of belonging, and it taught me that it’s important to always smile and encourage children -- I was impressed the most by how patient their parents were.” To close out Orientation Week, the Academic Building’s ground floor was transformed into a Party of the Century, featuring a dance floor and four local artists working on traditional Chinese crafts such as fan painting and sugar painting. Students decked the halls with drawings they made with their new classmates to carry on the Orientation Week theme of “hua” or painting -- the last of the Four Arts traditionally studied by classical Chinese scholars and a running Orientation theme for the past three years. “The world is not too big for us to be friends” is a line from NYU Shanghai’s alma mater and one that rings true for the Class of 2023, who have come together from some 39 countries and regions.