Family: The TT Experience
Sitting in a circle on the grass during one of those warm, late sunsets of August, a guitar strumming somewhere nearby, I was introduced to nineteen faces (the names were mostly already forgotten) that seemed no different from the many others I had met (and likewise forgotten) since move-in day. The faces defined themselves in the usual way: name, hometown, major. I had little faith in the speed-dating-like method of icebreakers. Knowing a person’s name, hometown, and major is not the same as knowing them.
This was my Tower Team, and though I knew we had a class in common, I was not sure what the group was supposed to be. People to sit with at lunch? Call when you forget the homework? Cling to during orientation, only to go your separate ways at the start of the semester?
Most TT groups did not stick. But we did, for whatever reason. I am inclined to say it was Zack and Sarah, whose enthusiasm and willingness to genuinely befriend each one of us was infectious. TT is supposed to help students adjust during orientation, to give them a group to associate with and a mentor they can ask for help. For us, it was – and continues to be - much more. Almost spontaneously we began calling ourselves a family.
I have formed deep, meaningful friendships that otherwise I do not think I would have. I can say with certainty that these nineteen beautiful human beings made my first semester at Belmont not only an easy transition, but also some of the best days of my life. We sit together at lunch, but we also have spontaneous late-night adventures. We commiserate over Byrne’s class, but we also share in each other’s journey to develop a view of the world and find our place in it. We reunite to bake cookies and play mafia, though we reject the word “reunion” because it implies separation. We have lost a few along the way, and now that we are no longer all in the same class, some of us have drifted apart. But we are all still family.
During the candlelight ceremony on the last night of orientation, each of us processed by the line of TT leaders ringed around the bell tower. We waved at Zack and Sarah and waited for them by the steps of the Beaman where we met each morning. When the last of the freshmen had finished the rite, Zack and Sarah emerged, smiles on their faces and tears in their eyes. And in one giant group hug, they prayed for us. They prayed for our happiness at Belmont and our growth as individuals. They thanked God that we were part of each other’s lives.
Next August many of my dearest friends will lead their own TT groups. I cannot wait to see them change the lives of new, uncertain students the way Zack, Sarah, and all the rest have changed my life. I hope we will leave a legacy that will change the way orientation is approached. Because these men and women are not just my classmates; they are my family.