Starting Days: A Class Spirit more essential than ever!
Published on 20 November 2020 by NEOMA
Such a peculiar start to the new school year as the one we have just been through has rarely, if ever, been experienced. The lockdown imposed last year disrupted the entrance exams and caused the cancellation of the orals … So, arriving on campus as a first-year student with the desire to discover something new and different is not so easy. Nevertheless, the new NEOMA students had the pleasure of enjoying an exceptional on-campus welcome with the Starting Days seminar. The aim of this new academic year seminar was to discover the School and create a real Class of 2020 spirit!
The chosen theme for Starting Days was biodiversity, which provided an opportunity for the Master in Management first years to take up the challenge of producing a video on environmental awareness in small groups. Over the course of the 4-day seminar, the students received invaluable support from their coaches, as well as from the added presence of a number of second-year students.
Clara Meyer, second-year Master in Management student, explains her role: “When they arrive on campus, the first-year students don’t know anyone. This year, due to the cancellation of the orals, they didn’t even get to visit the premises either. So we assumed the role of facilitators. We were there to help them settle in, to simplify communication as they worked in groups and to make them realise that this school is now theirs.”
Clara Mougin, another second-year student, adds, “we really played the role of fairy godparents. We wanted the first years to know that they could count on us to help their arrival go as smoothly as possible.”
A mutually beneficial meeting
The MiM second year students involved in the Starting Days seminar are following the Associative Entrepreneurial Track (PEA). And all of them are actively involved in one or more of the NEOMA student societies.
“We’ve been getting ready for this new school year event for some weeks now. For those of us on the Associative Entrepreneurial Track, it’s been quite a difficult time because many of our associations’ events have been cancelled,” explains Charline Pouillet. “Meeting the first years has really lifted our spirits! Seeing the new group of students arrive has done us a lot of good. We felt that they were happy to be here, which was a real boost for us!”
It is true to say that although the first years benefited from the support given by the second year students, they were also a real source of motivation in return. As Joris Senger explains: “the first-years brought a lot of good humour and life back to the campus. It was really enjoyable talking to them, with their different points of view and wide range of experience and backgrounds. Their new vision even caused us to start questioning ourselves at times.”
What is the NEOMA Class spirit?
Goodwill, humility and family are the key values for the students involved in the NEOMA Studnt societies. Values the second year students were particularly keen to share with the first-years.
“For us, the true challenge of this seminar was making sure they really got into the swing of things, especially as on-campus classes are scheduled every other week this year. We really focused on goodwill, which is really important for the rest of year because we have to work quite often in groups and speak in public, both during the first year as well as the second. It is important to be able to do this with confidence and without being judged. To set an example, we didn’t hesitate dressing up or playing the clown as we presented our associations to show that nobody should ever feel ashamed or afraid,” explains Charline Pouillet.
Gabriel Lecrocq, a second year student adds: “to help them discover the School’s outlook, we also made sure we were innovative and enterprising!”
The success of Starting Days
The joint efforts of staff members, coaches and second-year students proved to be highly successful. Arthur Gachet, first year student, shares his feelings: “what struck me most was the friendly NEOMA atmosphere. From the moment I arrived, I felt like smiling!”
A sense of the new class spirit also struck Maxime Carreau, first year student: “NEOMA is really very different from anything I experienced at prep. school. Throughout the seminar, helping one another was a predominant feature. Despite the pandemic, everything was set up so that we could work together in small groups, and then in bigger groups in the classrooms, always paying careful attention to health and safety measures. The organisation of the seminar was excellent, but I would really like to acknowledge the work of the second-years who played a fantastic role in helping us feel welcome.”
François SOUMBO, another first year student, sums up the seminar as follows: “the school has succeeded in welcoming the new students in the best possible way. In spite of the health barriers that stood in the way, we managed to get to know one another and I think that’s the real objective behind a successful start to the new school year. Throughout the week, the second-years were on hand to help us. It was a truly rewarding week, in terms of meetings and team spirit.”
[This article reflects campus-life in September – before the Government-directed lockdown.]