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MEDIA ADVISORY: It’s “Baltimore Day” for Johns Hopkins Freshmen

August 20, 2015
CONTACT: Jill Rosen
Office: 443-997-9906 / Cell: 443-547-8805
Tracey Reeves
Office: 443-997-9903 / Cell: 443-986-4053

WHAT: Sunday, Aug. 23, is “Baltimore Day” during orientation for new students at the Homewood campus of the Johns Hopkins University. Members of the class of 2019 will discover the city, learn how to get around, visit city neighborhoods and institutions, and share a Baltimore-themed cookout dinner. They will hear from and mingle with faculty and staff members, civic leaders, and fellow students who are Baltimoreans.

WHY: “The idea of Baltimore Day is to get our students out of the Johns Hopkins bubble from the beginning and into places where they can learn to better understand the city that will be their home for four years,” said Justin Beauchamp, coordinator of orientation and first-year experience at the university. “We want them to appreciate the city’s history and culture and learn ways to engage in the greater Baltimore community.”


Sunday, Aug. 23, 10 a.m., Shriver Hall auditorium, Homewood campus: The entire class of about 1,300 students gets together to hear a presentation, “In the City and of the City,” about the importance of being a part of Baltimore and interacting with it – doing community service, attending cultural events, supporting local business and meeting people – while they are at Johns Hopkins. The presentation also covers how to use both public transportation and Johns Hopkins shuttle services to get where you want to go in the city.

11 a.m., various locations around the Homewood campus: The class breaks up into their small groups (15-20 students and a “first-year mentor” that stay together throughout orientation). There’s an introduction to the day, including a discussion addressing “if you were introducing someone to your hometown, where would you take them?” (This is to give freshmen a feel for what they are about to experience and why various Baltimore locations were chosen.)

About 12 noon: The small groups go off to assigned places in Baltimore: Bolton Hill, Station North, Mount Vernon, Federal Hill/Fort McHenry, Fell’s Point, the Inner Harbor, Little Italy, and Druid Hill. Some will go by public transit or Johns Hopkins shuttle, others by vans or buses, but part of the experience will be to learn how to get to these destinations on their own next time they want to go. (For instance: “Here’s where we catch the Johns Hopkins shuttle to Penn Station; that’s where we transfer to the Purple Route Circulator to go downtown.”)

There will be activities and discussions at each location, led by a faculty member or a neighborhood/institutional representative. For instance, in Little Italy, Eugenio Refini, assistant professor of Italian studies, will talk about the Italian immigrant experience and culture in Baltimore. At other locations, students will, for instance, tour Fort McHenry, meet the curator of the university’s George Peabody Library in Mount Vernon, check out the American Visionary Arts Museum in Federal Hill, visit galleries in Station North, or drop in on faculty members’ homes in Bolton Hill.

5 p.m.-7 p.m., Freshman Quad, Homewood campus: The groups return to campus for a Baltimore-themed picnic (crab cakes, pit beef, Utz chips, local steamed corn with Old Bay butter, and appropriately themed vegetarian alternatives).

7 p.m.-8 p.m., Shriver Hall auditorium, Homewood campus: In the evening, there will several TED-inspired talks about the city by Baltimoreans, followed by more small-group discussion. One talk will specifically address inequality and poverty in Baltimore and nationally, and will provide an overview of research over the summer in which students interviewed Baltimore residents about the roots of the April unrest.

BOOK DISCUSSION: Over the summer, freshmen were sent and asked to read The Beautiful Struggle by Ta-Nehisi Coates, his account of growing up in Baltimore. During orientation (though not on Baltimore Day), faculty and staff members, along with student co-facilitators, will lead small-group discussions of the book. More information is available here.


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