Oberlin’s annual Connect Cleveland experience helps first-year students establish ties to the region.
Now an annual feature of orientation week, Connect Cleveland invites first-year students to visit Cleveland for a day of special programming and city exploration. Among the 800 students who participated this year were the newest class of conservatory students, who received a backstage tour of the Cleveland Orchestra’s Severance Hall and visited the Music Settlement, a center for music education and therapy.
Guided by Conservatory Peer Advising Leaders (ConPALs), returning students who mentor small cohorts of conservatory first-years, the young musicians started their day at Severance Hall. They spent the morning touring the historic concert hall and administration facilities, learning about internship opportunities, and participating in a Q&A with Sarah Lamb, the orchestra’s manager of community engagement.
After visiting the orchestra, the cohorts walked to Cleveland’s nearby Music Settlement, founded by Almeda Adams in 1912 with the mission to welcome recent immigrants. With campuses in the Cleveland neighborhoods of University Circle and Ohio City, the Music Settlement provides early childhood education, music education, and music therapy services to the Cleveland area. The new Obies were greeted by alumnus Matthew Charboneau ’02, chair of the center for music, and learned about music accessibility, student mentorship, and Winter Term opportunities.
Following a morning of music, the students headed to the Western Reserve Historical Society for lunch and spent the afternoon exploring the rest of University Circle—a cultural center that includes the Cleveland Botanical Gardens, Cleveland Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.
After a long day in the city, the students headed back home to Oberlin. The newfound connections to our near neighbor of Cleveland—or our ConPALs—doesn’t end here. Year-long ConPAL programming will continue with cohort dinners, workshops, and advising sessions. In addition to the annual orientation trip, Oberlin’s Connect Cleveland Initiative sponsors Neighborhood Crawls and special-events bus trips throughout the year. And Cleveland’s arts organizations regularly provide free and low-cost student tickets to concerts throughout the concert season!
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