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Harvard Yard bustled with parents, siblings, and extended family members on Friday and Saturday as relatives of freshmen converged on Cambridge for the College’s First-Year Family Weekend.
The Harvard Dean of Students Office organized the annual event, inviting parents to participate in a range of activities. Smiling family members stopped by classrooms, museum open houses, historical tours, faculty lectures, religious group events, and a tailgate luncheon. During meal hours, Annenberg Hall — the freshman dining hall — overflowed with parents proudly sporting "P’22" caps and crimson-colored sweatshirts.
Though Kosta Sakenis and Renata Sakeniene, parens of Simas Sakenis '22, said they enjoyed several College-sponsored events, the pair said the real value of their weekend came in seeing how their son lived on a day-to-day basis.
“I wouldn't say [there was] much surprise, because our son was already telling a lot,” Kostas Sakenis said. “It was more to see [it] with our own eyes, and to feel the atmosphere, and to experience what does it mean, being here in this environment?”
Jacqueline E. Zoeller ’22 said she was also excited to show her parents her new life at Harvard.
“This is the first time I've seen them in person since Move-In Day,” Zoeller said, “It was so odd just to be like, ‘Wow, my life is so different from when I last saw you.’”
Polina N. Whitehouse ’22, meanwhile, said she was eager to show her parents her newly clean bedroom, the result of hours of frenetic activity before the weekend rolled around.
“I was particularly excited to show them the actual visible floor, which had not been in existence for multiple weeks,” Whitehouse said.
“I was impressed by the amount of crap on the floor,” Mark Whitehouse countered, referring to the common room. “I don’t know if you can use that word in The Crimson.”
Kirsten M. Anderson ’90, mother of Kieran L. Anderson ’22, said the College now seems to put more emphasis on supporting students than it did when she was an undergraduate.
“The only thing that strikes me as different, I think, is the expansion of the student-centeredness...which I think is really good,” she said.
Gina Burke, the College’s interim coordinator of parent programs, wrote in an emailed statement that First-Year Family Weekend gives families an opportunity to “spend quality time” with students in their new environment at Harvard.
“For students, we hope having their families in town provided a boost of support and connection to home, especially after being away from each other for several months,” Burke wrote. “For those whose families were not able to attend, we hope students were able to connect with the larger Harvard community through special events like faculty dinners, meeting up with a host family, or gatherings in their entryway.”
One of the divisions of the Dean of Students Office hosted a student-faculty dinner on Friday for freshmen whose parents could not come to campus due to “financial hardships, immigration policies, and/or other significant personal circumstances.”
Reflecting on her time with her family, Caroline M. Kremer ’22 said, “I was just excited to show my parents what everyday life is like here.”
Kremer gave her family a tour of the newly reopened Smith Campus Center, adding she enjoyed “just showing off, like ‘We get to go here.’”
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