A Global Welcome for Incoming Colonials

Incoming students gather at the GW Summer Send-Off in Seoul July 20.
August 13, 2012

GW alumni, parents host Summer Send-Offs to welcome hundreds of new students and their families at locations in the United States and around the world.

With more than 250,000 GW alumni around the world, it’s no surprise many were on hand this summer to welcome incoming GW students before they hit campus this fall. Hundreds of students and their families have already attended George Washington’s 2012 Summer Send-Offs in locations nationally and internationally, including Boston, Dallas, Beijing and Mexico City.

This week’s domestic send-offs—Chicago, Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles, Orange County, New York, Seattle and Philadelphia—are the last of the summer, marking more than 30 send-offs in total, all organized GW’s Office of Alumni Relations.

Associate Director of Student and Young Alumni Programs Molly Kastendieck, M.Ed. ’08, said the send-offs provide families and students with the chance to meet other members of the GW community who live nearby.

“The send-offs provide us with a smaller atmosphere in which incoming students and their families can meet other members of their community,” she said. “Parents especially enjoy bonding with other parents in their area.”

This year, Charlotte, N.C., and Houston were added to the list, while other locations, like Los Angeles and Philadelphia, have been sites for the last 20 years. Ms. Kastendieck noted there were particularly strong turnouts in Boston and Allentown, Pa., this summer.

Coordinator for Regional Alumni Programs Colby Anderson, B.A. ’11, had a “great experience” hosting a July 28 send-off in Charlotte with his mother, Andrea.

“My mom got a chance to talk to the parents, and I got to speak with the incoming students,” he said. “I know the parents had a good time exchanging tips, and the students also had a good time comparing majors and selected classes. Everyone ended up staying an hour later than scheduled because everyone was having such a great time.”

GW parents Eric and Jessica Zachs hosted a send-off Aug. 8 at their home in West Hartford, Conn.

“The send-off is a great way to send off new students and help put parents at ease,” they said. “The relaxed atmosphere in the home of a GW parent is the perfect way to familiarize faces, ask questions and meet staff. As seasoned parents, we are happy to help with the process!”

GW parents Dan and Paula Riordan, hosts of the July 29 send-off in Arlington, Va., said they were thrilled to welcome local families to the GW community.

“We truly feel the personal connection that you get when you become part of GW is one of the many advantages that the university offers in addition to the one of a kind location and top notch academic programs,” they said.

The number of international send-offs—held in Asia, Latin America and Europe—tripled this summer to include more events in China and India, said Liza Boffen-Yordanov, director of international alumni programs and development.

“The international send-offs serve a dual purpose: They welcome students and allow alumni the opportunity to network and meet with students,” she said. “All of our summer send-offs this year were fabulous. The students have been really receptive and very excited about the opportunity to come to the United States.”

GW President Steven Knapp attended the London send-off and alumni reception Aug. 2, along with GW Board of Trustees members George Coelho, M.B.A. ’77, and Michael Hoffman. Ms. Boffen-Yordanov noted that incoming students “had their mouths hanging open” at the opportunity to meet Dr. Knapp and the trustees.

More than 200 people attended the Beijing summer-send off July 7, including Bianca Chen, an incoming student in the School of Public Health and Health Services. Ms. Chen, who also attended a send-off in Wuhan, said that she has never heard of a university hosting an international send-off.

“The summer send-offs provide me with great opportunities to meet with alumni, build networks and get more information about the fresh new circumstances,” she said. “I really feel I'm joining more than a college, but a family!”

Nate Holdstein, B.A. ’07, is actively involved in organizing alumni events in China and helped host the Beijing send-off.

“The Beijing summer send-off has been happening for a number of years but only recently has it become such a big part in welcoming incoming Chinese students,” he said. “Hosting an event of this nature is a great way to keep students engaged even before they arrive on campus.”

The support of GW alumni around the world is the reason these events are so successful, said Ms. Boffen-Yordanov. “Our alumni are our backbone,” she said. “They do anything and everything to make these events happen.”

Ms. Boffen-Yordanov encourages alumni interested in getting involved with student outreach to contact her.