Last night, we held the first of our "Dinner at a College" series at New York University. Each month, "Dinner at a College" gives our students the opportunity the enjoy dinner in a different College's Dining Hall. While free food is always- understandably- a draw for our students, it was incredibly rewarding to see the shift in their attitudes towards their futures as the evening progressed. We find "Dinner at a College" to be an incredibly successful and meaningful experience for our students in three ways:
1. College life now seems more accessible – Project Rousseau is a unique organization because we do not ‘cherry-pick’ students in any way; students enter Project Rousseau in various academic standings. For many of our students, college initially seems like something that is outside of the realm of possibility. By simply immersing themselves in the college environment and socializing with college students that they could relate to, many of our students definitely became more ambitious with their goals. They also realize that the college experience offers more than academic rigor: a dormitory offers a dependable safe place to live, a dining hall offers a consistent food source, and peers offer diverse, interesting, and fun friends. NYU watch this space for Project Rousseau applicants!
2. It gave our mentors at NYU an opportunity to develop as role models – Our mentoring pillar is a crucial component of our approach. Being surrounded by friends gave our students much more confidence to ask our NYU mentors questions. It also gave our mentees the opportunity to interact with the NYU mentors in a more casual and fun environment. We’ve been bombarded with requests for contact details, especially from students from other chapters, of the NYU mentors to ask more questions!
3. Our students brought their friends! – One unanticipated spillover effect of the event was outreach to students who wanted to get involved with us but had not been directly reached out to via staff. We absolutely love when our students urge their peers to come and join Project Rousseau. It means that the message we instill in our students is spreading – that your background does not determine your future.