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10 Students Start Their Year with Service on the 1742 Experience

Ten freshmen get a jump on their college experience during this week-long pre-orientation program

What’s the best way to adjust to brand new surroundings? Jump in. Get your hands dirty.

That’s exactly what 10 lucky members of the freshman class did during their 1742 Experience, a week-long pre-orientation program designed to provide incoming freshmen with a head start to adjusting to college life at Moravian and to help them learn about the city of Bethlehem while improving the community around them.

Incoming freshman applied to the program through a formal application detailing their interests and community service background, plus what they might bring to the group experience. This year’s applicant pool, the largest in its five-year history, produced ten service-minded all stars. “We cap the program at 10 to create a close knit community of strong future leaders,” says Suzanne Moyer, coordinator of the Experience. “The Experience doesn’t stop in August, either. We host events throughout the semester to keep these students connected and engaging in service as a group throughout their time here.”

The group, led by two upperclassmen team leaders (both former 1742-ers, as they’re called), visited six unique sites within a mile radius of Moravian College’s campus to lend a hand with landscaping, cleaning and organization, and packing food cards and school supply packs for children and families in need. But while they were pulling weeds and putting together desks, students got a dose of the rich history that thrives just steps from their dorm rooms.

“I’m planning to study German, so being surrounded by all this Moravian history is so exciting!” said Zachary Benjamin ’19 as he sorted old Moravian sheet music at the Moravian Archives. “From the moment I set foot onto Moravian soil I knew it was the place I wanted to be. This Greyhound will make a difference.”

And a difference they are making. New Bethany Ministries, which serves the hungry and homeless populations of Bethlehem, Pa., was their first stop on a weeklong tour that included William Penn Elementary School, the Historic Bethlehem Partnership, and the YMCA of Bethlehem. After just three hours, New Bethany was able to distribute 25 food carts to families in need, prepare hygiene packets for their clients, and prep school supply backpacks for 80 school children in the community.

Many of 2015’s crop of 1742-ers came to the College already consumed with the community service bug. Jessica Buttner ’19, planning to major in political science, previously volunteered with Brothers/Big Sisters of the Lehigh Valley. “At Accepted Students Day, I recognized some of Moravian College's current United Student Government members,” she said. “Ever since I sat in on a meeting and talked with them, I have been inspired to join USG and make an impact on Moravian's campus and community.”

The other benefit of embarking on the 1742 Experience: friendship. The first day of classes is a lot less scary with 10 other familiar faces wandering around campus. “I love that we are able to give first year students the opportunity to get involved in their new community while creating friendships and other relationships,” said team leader Tessa Haney ‘16. This is her second year as team leader and third year with the program. “I’ve met some of my best friends through this experience, and hopefully these new relationships will not only last them their years at Moravian, but their lives as well.”