It is hard to forget your freshman year — the ups, the downs, and all the in-betweens are forever engrained in your memory. New Student Programs (NSP) has jump-started a project that will give this year’s freshman class a chance to make sure that their reflections on their first year at Cornell are preserved.
NSP is sponsoring “The First-Year Collaborative Journal Project,” in which 100 blank journals are being distributed to the freshman class. NSP Program Assistant Christine Potter came up with this idea as a fun, creative way to find out what first-year students experience and think about their freshman year. She was inspired by The1000JournalsProject, in which 1,000 journals are being circulated worldwide “to provide a method for integration and shared creativity,” according to www.1000journals.com. Each decorated and numbered journal invites students to contribute up to four pages of writing, artwork, or whatever else they wish to create or include in order to memorialize their first year. Upon completing their contribution to the journal, students may pass the journal on to another student or bring it back to the Carol Tatkon Center to be redistributed.
Although NSP cannot predict how freshmen will respond to the project, according to Potter, one journal brought back to the Carol Tatkon Center featured a brilliant drawing, and so far, approximately 70 journals are actively in circulation. About 50 of these have been picked up at the Carol Tatkon Center by interested students, while about 20 have been “planted” on unsuspecting students, slipped into their backpacks by RAs in freshman dorms and by the NSP in popular freshmen hangouts.
The goal of the project is to produce a creative record of the freshman year experience. “In that way, we can educate and inspire future incoming students through the voices of present first-year students,” described Carol Grumbach, associate dean of students for NSP, according to a press release. Once all the journals are filled out and returned to the Carol Tatkon Center, in addition to creating a permanent record of all the journals, NSP plans to display a selection of the entries at the Carol Tatkon Center.
Provided that the freshman class responds positively to the project and funding permits, NSP hopes to have an art exhibit and a website displaying interesting entries and also hopes to continue sponsoring the project in the future. Because funding for the project is limited and NSP’s main concern is for first-year students only, any potential plans to extend the project to other classes would have to be taken up by other groups, such as clubs, student publications, or class councils.