“Hey there, have you gotten an H2O Card yet?” My standard starter question.
The answers to the question vary from person to person. Some are very confident with their Yes or No. Some are quite unsure, afraid to make an inadvertent faux pas. Some ask for more of an explanation what an H2O Card is.
“Here, let me give you one… We’re a student group here on campus who also happens to be a church. The one side of this card offers a bunch of discounts to local businesses here in Kent — and the other side of the card has our website, where you can find more information about these businesses and more information about us as well.” The goal is to just create a point of contact: a smile, a friendly face, a free gift.
After this exchange, some people respond with questions. Sometimes we fall into a more meaningful exchange. Almost every time, the student walks away saying, “Thank you.” And then we turn our attention to the next passers-by. The interaction is repeated literally thousands of times.
And thus goes the first day — the Thursday — that incoming freshmen at Kent State University are welcomed on campus.
On Friday we hand out more H2O cards. In addition, we set up some outdoor games (Cornhole and Kan-Jam) to facilitate more interaction with incoming freshmen. When the University organizes picnics, parties, and other social events, we make a point to be there, too. Saturday includes a special community service initiative, a dodge-ball tournament, in addition to more of the previous strategies for making friends. Sunday morning brings our Welcome Worship Gathering, a church picnic in the afternoon, and the KSU Blast-Off (student organization fair) in the evening.
Monday and Tuesday bring the first days of classes, and in the evenings we take time to follow up with students. Over 1000 surveys were filled out at the Blast-Off, and we make a point to personally connect with the 500+ who explicitly express some degree of interest in learning more about H2O. Tonight (Wednesday) will be our H2O Kick-Off, which is kind of like our Welcome Worship Gathering, except it happens in the middle of the week and thus allows a glimpse of H2O for other students who may have heard of us since Sunday (particularly upperclassmen, who may not have moved in yet by Sunday morning).
This week’s pace cannot be sustained for the long-term. But it’s also kind of fun to experience such a high-energy week in Kent — and there’s definitely an element of adrenaline that powers us through. Please keep praying for us…