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Caroline Freeman warden Chris Addington image 3
Warden Chris Addington holding one of Caroline Freeman College's numerous flamingos.

Have you ever wondered what it takes to prepare your home for 300 guests?

Chris Addington, warden of Caroline Freeman College (CFC), shares what is involved in this mammoth undertaking.

From Saturday, February 18, approximately 3,500 tauira will move into one of the University's 14 colleges.

The journey of inducting students into CFC begins in October of the previous year when students are selected to join the college.

“There's a method to our madness,” Addington says.

“We start building community from day one.”

A private Facebook page is created, and all staff post a profile introducing themselves to students. Students are then encouraged to post their own profiles.

“It's amazing. I would have 150-200 of them who would post stuff.

“They're really open and they start sharing from that day about who they are. They would say 'here's me, here's my dog, here's my little brother, here's what I like, here's what I'm afraid of'.”

Communication with students becomes more frequent as move-in day inches closer.

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Welcome Packs ready to be placed on the desk of each new student.

Meanwhile, the three weeks of sub-warden training across colleges is already underway.

They are trained in how to run events, in first aid and mental health first aid, in dealing with a disclosure for a sexual misconduct, in cultural awareness and on college routines and procedures.

“Here, we do training in scenarios. 'What would you do in this situation?', we act it out, we roleplay it,” he says.

“This morning we did a session where we looked at how to do a mentoring interview with somebody. How to talk to them about their goals and their plans and what they're studying.”

The kitchen, CFC's “well-oiled machine”, makes note of the various dietary requirements of their newest group of diners.

“They just get on and cater for all those special diets and do a wonderful job.

“Obviously getting eggs will be a challenge this year.”

On move-in day, staff are joined by a cohort of CFC alumni volunteers to welcome incoming tauira to their new home.

This is when CFC's “multi-pronged” approach to academic support is employed, starting with Academic Achievement Week that runs alongside the first week of lectures.

Caroline Freeman image 1
An empty room at Caroline Freeman College awaiting its new host.

Several tutors are selected to run formal in-house tutorials for certain papers and tutorials that help with goal setting, time-management, essay-writing and beyond are also held.

Addington is no stranger to inducting students into halls as this will be his fifth year at the helm of CFC and sixteenth year at Otago all together.

While Orientation serves as an important first step in making a hall a home, community-building occurs throughout the year, Addington says.

“We're constantly building community through our events, small group interactions, large whole college events, and even though it might seem slightly ridiculous, having the flamingo as the mascot is really a rallying call for the kids here.”

Addington has many hopes for the new cohort of CFC Flamingoes, but his priority is creating a safe retreat for tauira to feel comfortable and grounded.

“I always have a goal that every kid will get through the year. Physically, psychologically, socially, academically.”

“After nine months, everyone should be able to look over their shoulder and say 'I am not the person I was nine months ago. I'm still me, but I'm more of me. More advanced, more developed, more adult'.”

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