With a Thai spring roll in one hand and a lucky hand of cards in another, a bright-eyed first-year scanned the players around the table. His opponents were leaning in eagerly, awaiting his next action to evade death by Exploding Kitten. I was afraid that they would topple everything over from how much weight they were putting on the poor table. Without further ado, the first-year took a bite of his food, uttered to the group, “Let’s rock and roll” (a tasteful food pun that I enjoyed), and flicked an Attack card onto the table. I never saw a group of college kids get so hyphy.
Questbridge and First Gen Collective hangouts are filled with moments like this one. Friends, old and new, gather together to partake in cool activities with cooler people, surrounded by the mouth-watering aromas of non-dining-hall food and the energetic songs of banger playlists. It is possible that high-stake games jeopardize the standings of 3-years-old friendships, but there is nothing that a scream-sing jam session cannot heal. What seems to be a contrasting group of majors, after one QB/1GC hangout, becomes a regular brunch clique. What seems to be an underclassman and a senior, after one QB/1GC hangout, becomes an accidental mentorship connection. Once a month, this is the place at Tufts for first-generation students to grow as a cohesive community. And Saturday, February 9th, we as a collective did just that.
As a co-vice president of the Tufts Questbridge Scholars chapter, I am proud to see how our group has grown. We plan and execute our monthly events, both big and small, with the intention of strengthening connections between students and bridging students to resources for success at Tufts. With that in mind, we kicked off our February hangout with community announcements and Thai food for dinner (because love is food and food is love). These announcements consisted of a warm fuzzies segment, where individuals had the opportunity to shout out themselves or their friends for the victories they collected throughout the month. The applause after each compliment was ever uplifting. After, we shared current resources, such as the career fair early first-gen walk-through opportunity and the available applications for the FIRST peer leader role.
The more freeform, less logistical fun took the form of breakout group bonding activities, where groups of 2 were paired with another group they weren’t friends with before. In this structure, students had the comfort of a familiar face while also opening up to new connections. From table to table, conversation topics flew through the air. I noted that they easily transitioned from academic to non academic, from chemical engineering classes to be taken to new Bean Boozled flavors to be created. It wasn’t long before the games were poured onto the cleared tables, and this is when I witnessed the greatness that was the fiery first-year’s daring Attack move.
With our stomachs filled by piles of pad thai and hearts warmed by formations of friendships, we each retreated to whatever the rest of our Saturday nights had in store. I skipped to the beat of a song played at the hangout, content knowing that I’ll get an Exploding Kittens rematch soon again. The first-generation community is being heard more and more here at Tufts, with the establishment of the FIRST Center and the strengthening of our student clubs. And I am happy to speak my truth with peers and hear the stories of others through first-gen festivities like this hangout. I am also happy to order delectable dinners in bulk and stuff my face with arguably the coolest people on campus. Here is to being first-gen at Tufts!