An Open Letter to a Freshman/Woman- Memoirs Two Decades Later | Mrs. Caroline Kasaya
Re: My First Year Orientation Memoirs Two Decades Later
I joined the University of Nairobi Lower Kabete Campus in 1998 October to pursue a Bachelors of Commerce degree. Joining the university was a dream come true for my family being the firstborn girl and the first grandchild in the family to do so was no mean fete. Joining the university like I discovered later was not a personal affair, everyone was concerned and a few involved in this new space of life and the two pieces of advice I got were, to work hard and have a career and secondly to ensure that I did not misuse my freedoms now that my parents would not be around.
When I walked through the gate of Lower Kabete on that chilly Monday morning with my traveling bag accompanied by my father, a new life awaited me. I was afraid yet happy, I was not trusting, yet in need of finding meaningful friends, I was ready to conquer the world but my heart was timid because of the journey ahead.
Once you walk through those gates alone or accompanied and the registration process is completed, you become a bonafide member of the institution you are in. As a young Christian girl then, I knew that I needed to plug into a fellowship where for starters, I would be “safe”. So you can imagine my joy when registering for clubs and associations, I found the Christian Union Desk. I was made to feel welcome and was given a brochure that contained all the meeting times and dates.
The orientation team that is set up by the Christian Union is tasked to ensure that a relevant programme is planned mostly in the evenings to equip and introduce the freshmen and women to the fellowship and an introduction to campus life.
The social media explosion we experience today was not there at all almost 21 years ago, so our crude yet effective communication methods of posters and personal chaperones really worked. I guess that due to our fewer numbers then, we could afford to have persons assigned to follow us up or better still grouped for follow up. Whichever way, it worked and I attended all orientation meetings for the campus administration, clubs, and associations and the Christian Union.
At the end of the orientation week, the campus administration organized what was called the Freshers Dance, which later evolved to become the “Ponyoka na Fresher Ball”, I need to be updated on the new terms. In 1998, I chose to believe the CU elders who warned us not to attend the ball/dance and instead advised us to attend the Friday fellowship and a retreat on the following day. I must say, this decision set me apart and from that day that I firmly belonged to the CU fellowship and made a decision to be a follower of Christ while on campus.
In my more than 20 years interaction with students either as, a student leader, a student worker with FOCUS and now as an associate, I can without a shadow of a doubt say that you chose which path to follow right at the start of your stay as a resident or a non-resident student. The choice is yours.
The freedoms in campus life must be harnessed for the good of the Gospel, the common good of others and for your edification. This verse in 1 Corinthians 6:12 must under guard your decisions “I have the right to do anything” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything” (NIV)
In relation to your academic life
Start off from the first lecture you attend. Show commitment and determination, be diligent and hardworking, follow instructions, be innovative and give your best. There are those few geniuses who may not need to attend all classes but will ace all their tests and exams, you may or may not be one of them. Know who you are and where the library is.
In relation to your social life
Learn the art of making friends. There are fake people around you just as there are real. Be careful about what you spend your money on and who you spend it with. There are some senior students who specialize in fleecing freshmen and women.
This is the time students get into meaningless cross-gender relationships. Infatuation and confusion due to transitions can confuse even the most level headed person. I pray that the CU will plan for such sessions in the early days of campus. For those who come in while relating, it is okay, work to nurture the relationships. Some good relationships happen on campus but conventional wisdom states that someone should not propose to you as soon as you have just landed and you accept!
Work to nurture relationships with your parents, guardians, and siblings. Visit during breaks and long holidays and if you are non-resident, then make time to update them on how and what you are doing. 20 years ago most students in campuses were resident, the case is different nowadays but that does not stop us from connecting with our loved ones intentionally.
In relation to your spiritual life
We are living in a world that is increasingly placing God in the back room. He is no longer prime and we have adopted an “I can do all things by myself. I am a self-made person”. The Bible is clear about such people who believe in themselves Psalm 14:1 has an apt response.
The campus social, the CU, the academic rigors give one the opportunity to see God at work, to grow in faith, to struggle with life questions and to test one’s heart. I pray that in these 4 to 6 to however long it may take for you to finish your studies, the truths about God will be engraved in your heart and ingrained in your mind.
There is a lot one can write about orientation and life on campus, for now, plug in and enjoy an adventure with God, Start with that one step of committing to follow Jesus as He leads you through campus life as a resident or a non-resident student.
Yours in Christ
Mrs. Caroline Kasaya UoN Lower Kabete Campus (1998-2002)