In order to support the incoming first-year students, NYU Shanghai’s New Student Programs hires upperclassmen students to serve as student leaders known as Orientation Ambassadors (OA). As an OA, students provide support to new students from before they arrive to Shanghai, throughout orientation week, and into their first semester of college. OAs are selected through an application process that includes a written out application, group interview, and individual interview which occur in this succession during the month of March. For this recent incoming Class of 2026, there were a total of thirty two OAs. 

The work of an OA begins shortly after admittance in March and lasts well into the following Fall semester, however most of the responsibilities surround the start of the new academic year. For the remainder of the Spring semester, there is sparse training. Once the roster of incoming first-years have been finalized (international students in June and Chinese students in July/August due to Covid-19 related delays), they are divided into groups and assigned an OA. Upon receiving their roster ,  OAs reach out to each student and set up online welcome calls to establish connections, get to know students, and answer any questions. As one of the first contacts at NYU Shanghai, OAs have the advantage of being a student as well, something which Summer Xiao ’23, explains allows them to be “closer to students” and “relate to them” on a deeper level. 

The bulk of work comes in the final weeks of summer break. It starts with a long week of training, during which OAs attend workshops on facilitation and also work in smaller teams to lead mock facilitations and plan Orientation events. Each team of around seven OAs is led by an OA Captain, students who are tasked with helping New Student Programs staff in organizing and leading all the OAs.

 After a weekend of rest once training is completed, OAs get right back to work supporting first-year move-in day and leading a variety of events throughout the week including trips to scenic spots in Shanghai, neighborhood tours, and mandatory health checks. This then leads right into Orientation week(end) which this year fell on September 10-12th. Throughout these days OAs are busy facilitating workshops and leading the events they prepared beforehand. Such events included the annual Scavenger Hunt, Game Night, Fun Olympics, and for this year in particular a special Mid-Autumn Festival celebration.

Once Orientation is over, the role of an OA does not stop; over the next month and a half, OAs facilitate the eight session long First Year Dialogue  program with the first year students in their OA group. With snacks and boba funded by the New Students programs, the weekly sessions feature discussions on topics that are geared towards getting to know each other and relevant to the transition to college, things like goal setting, managing time, and setting healthy boundaries.  

“Honestly being an OA is pretty tiring, pretty challenging, ” notes Kevin Liu ’25, “you have a lot of work to do, maybe that you couldn’t expect before you started that role, but it was generally a very rewarding experience.” While Kevin emphasized that being an OA“ is not only a role, but also a job” (OA is an official paid position), he also shared that “at the beginning I merely considered it as a job, as a responsibility that I needed to fulfill, that I just needed to deal with any problems the students might have with transitioning to NYUSH, but [now] we kind of have tighter bonds and connections, so they turn to me to ask about more general questions about life about school, something deeper than just the orientation, or the procedures, the logistics”. Summer Xiao echoes this idea, noting how “as an OA you care about your students and in return they care about you”.

 Although it requires a certain amount of responsibility, the position of OA has been overwhelmingly rewarding for both first year students and the OA themselves. While each year brings in new groups of OAs and new circumstances for the job, the overall OA experience is one that is shared by all who take part. For those interested, this is an opportunity that is definitely worth consideration!