Family Weekend will be mostly virtual and offer many interesting and fun ways for students and their families to engage with Washington State University, April 9-11.

WSU opera and musical theatre students, under the direction of Professor Julie Anne Wieck, will perform “Keep Moving On!” featuring a collection of music by Broadway legend Stephen Sondheim. The Department of Apparel, Merchandising, Design & Textiles will host its 38th Annual Fashion Show. This year’s theme is Zeitgeist – The Spirit of the Times.

WSU Executive Chef Jamie Callison and Orin Ford, owner of O-Ramen Restaurant in Pullman, will judge ramen creations during a virtual event sponsored by the WSU Global campus.

The Digital Technology and Culture program will present video games and interactive media created by students.

Other activities include an in-person art exhibit, a virtual trivia night, and yoga classes. To view a full list of activities, dates, and times, visit the Family Weekend website.

Kari Sampson, director of development for the Division of Student Affairs, said students, faculty, and staff engaged in a lot of creative planning to make the virtual Family Weekend successful. The activities provide participants a low-key way to safely connect with each other and engage with the University.

“You can participate in the comfort of your home, dress up or be in your sweats, whatever makes you feel comfortable,” Sampson said. “All you have to do is visit the Family Weekend website and a number of fun opportunities await you.”

WSU senior Diana Calderon-Sandoval and her brother Leo, a junior, are excited to participate in Family Weekend for the first time. Their parents live in Mexico and have never been able to visit them at WSU. The Calderon-Sandoval siblings struggled to find ways to fit into the Mom’s and Dad’s Weekends of the past and appreciate that all family members and supporters are encouraged to participate in the new Family Weekends.

“A lot of students don’t have parents close by or have grandparents or older siblings serving as their guardians that don’t fit the mom or dad description,” Calderon-Sandoval said. “By calling them Family Weekends, they are now more inclusive of everyone.”

Virtual seminar series to set the stage

A series of virtual seminars addressing what students can expect to experience at WSU in the fall will also be held.

The seminars are organized by the Division of Student Affairs in partnership with Enrollment Management and International Programs. The sessions are by invitation only and designed to engage specific student audiences and their families in discussions about how WSU is planning to safely bolster in- person experiences for students in the fall semester.

“We wanted to build upon the previous town halls by providing more interactive, detail-focused sessions that allow students and their families opportunities to engage with University leaders,” said Kim Holapa, associate vice president for external engagement and strategic initiatives in the Division of Student Affairs.

The first seminar, on Wednesday, April 7, is titled “Fall 2021 – New Year and a New Coug Experience” and is intended for current first-year students and their families. Jill Creighton, associate vice president and dean of students, and Jaime Nolan, associate vice president for community, equity, and inclusive excellence, will discuss how out-of-the-classroom experiences in fall 2021 will not only be different from fall 2020, but better.

Students and family members will get to choose from a variety of breakout sessions addressing topics such as living on campus as a sophomore, engaging in leadership opportunities, preventing the spread of COVID-19 on campus, and building communities of support.

On Thursday, April 8, incoming WSU students and their families are invited to participate in a “Coug Ready” seminar led by Saichi Oba, vice provost for enrollment management.

Breakout sessions will address topics such as finding student support at WSU, Greek life, living on campus, and Alive Orientation. A panel discussion for first-time college parents will also be included.

The final seminar is intended for international students, scholars, and families. It will take place on Friday, April 9, and will begin with a welcome from Asif Chaudhry, vice president for International Programs.

Kate Hellmann, director of international student and scholar services, said the speakers will convey that WSU is a safe and welcoming place for the international community at a time when safety is more important than ever.

“We will talk about the services WSU offers on campus and in the community, including what the student experience is like with our International Center,” Hellmann said. “We will also highlight what the Office of International Programs does to support students with their regulatory needs for immigration as well as linguistic, academic, social, and cultural needs, so they are successful and complete a WSU degree program.”