How to welcome home friends from Study-Service Term is the leading cause of emotional stress and confusion for people on campus.SSTers are globetrotters, but definitely not as famous as the Harlem Globetrotters, so how do we show them the appropriate level of respect? There are also the little details such as whether to offer them a handshake or a hug when you encounter them on campus.
Lucky for you, I have taken time to put into words the strict (and before now unspoken) protocol for how to welcome home the masses.
● In an effort to show that you really care for the person, make sure to start your conversations by asking them “HOW WAS SST?!” Be careful that you are not too specific in fear that a guided question might not encompass the vast experience that is SST.
Also, the more questions the merrier! To make sure that you get them all answered, it is safest to ask them all at once. Tag on “Did you just love it? I bet it was a life changing experience! What did you eat? Oh, and tell me about your host family and service and and and … ” You get the idea.
After you have given them adequate time to answer the questions (it shouldn’t take more than a couple minutes…) you can move on to talking about your life.
● Basically all other cultural experiences are the same, so feel free to generalize from your personal experiences, as well as what you have read in books and seen on TV.
Most SST stories have been taken from the plot of Survivor and all of the medical issues have probably been solved on an episode of House. Being that we are all Global Citizens here at Goshen, your assumptions about their experience are probably correct, so there’s no need to bother asking them to clarify.
● It is best to do all of your catching up at once. Concentrated story times where they can speak for hours about their experience is invigorating, not exhausting!
Waiting for stories to come up naturally over time just won’t allow you to completely understand their full experience, which is totally possible. If you’re really interested you can always ask to read their personal journal from SST, because how else will you get to know the nitty gritty details?
So now you have some guiding principles of what to do when you see a returned SSTer. And as for greeting them, go for the handshake.