Friday, August 16th, 2019
As the time drew nearer to 10:40AM, young adults from every corner and crevice of the globe filled the large auditorium. They filed in through the two main entrances located in the auditorium lobby, each handed a program by a volunteer upperclassman. This program held list of the orientation meeting's speakers and coordinators as well as a copy of the day's schedule and a map of the campus. The eloquent sound of a piano and violin duet flowed throughout the space, produced by a pair of students positioned on the left side of the stage. Warm lighting and colors added to the refined atmosphere of the room. The chairs were coated in velvet fabric and the stage was a polished mahogany, shining under a grandiose chandelier. Despite the institute not having a uniform, the student performers and volunteers all wore dark green blazers with the school's insignia on the breast.
The duet came to a mesmerizing climax as the doors to the auditorium closed. The students poured over their instruments, their passion reflecting in the music they created. Gently, their song came to an end. They went to center stage and took a bow, both smiling pridefully. The pianist made his way offstage and into the wings, while the violinist remained on stage, a spotlight illuminating her. "Welcome to the Promise Institute," she spoke, her voice amplified throughout the auditorium by a microphone on the lapel of her blazer. "I'm Meili Song, the senior class president. It is my honor to share your first day as students of this incredible institution with you. I remember being in your position three years ago; nervous, angry, and hopeful.
"I had never left Beijing before I boarded a plane to come to the Promise Institute. I was alone and horribly afraid of heights and the ocean, which made for a sickening plane ride over the Pacific. I didn't know a single person on this island and couldn't speak English much better than a six-year-old kid. My parents resented my special ability and were relived to send me far away. I was heartbroken. I hadn't asked to be different. I felt robbed of my life as a normal woman, career plans put on hold indefinitely and estranged from all my previous relationships.
"But I still had hope. I kept my heart open, even though all I wanted to do was brood, and I'm so glad I did. I found a home in the Promise Institute. I became friends with my classmates, was mentored by my professors, and learned to view my ability as a gift. I've been studying to become a surgeon with some of the best medical professors in the world, so that I can use my gift to heal in order to help improve the world. Keep hope in your hearts and I promise you will find a way to use your gift to help everyone."
The young woman had tears in her eyes but still smiled widely as she left the stage the same way her duet partner had. As she left an older woman walked on stage from the opposite direction, smiling warmly and clapping. "Thank you so much Meili for sharing your story with us. Every student at this school has their own unique and inspiring story, and I hope you all will hear them as you get to know your peers." This new figure appeared to be in her late thirties, wearing a smart green dress and a black scarf. She took her place at center stage. "I am Anya Belsky, the president of the Promise Institute. I look forward to seeing what your class is capable of."
The orientation meeting continues with speakers such as the president, freshman advisers, and other students sharing information about the Promise Institute and personal stories of coming to embrace one's gift. At the conclusion of the meeting the president stands center stage once again. "Please join us for lunch in the dining hall at noon. If you need help getting there or have any questions, ask a student volunteer in a green blazer. And once again, welcome to the Promise Institute."
The lights on stage dim and the chandelier overhead becomes brighter as the auditorium doors open once more. The students have 15 minutes before lunch starts, and may take this time to do some exploring, talk to other students, go to the bathroom, or whatever else it is they may desire.