Student volunteers transform campus for Collide

This year’s Torrey Conference was prepared in part by Biola students to better incorporate a better perspective for the conference.

Students+help+make+and+set+up+decorations+for+Torrey+Conference+2014+in+Sutherland+auditorium.+%7C+Anna+Warner%2FTHE+CHIMES

Students help make and set up decorations for Torrey Conference 2014 in Sutherland auditorium. | Anna Warner/THE CHIMES

Chloe Tokar and Endless Anderson Reza

Students help make and set up decorations for Torrey Conference 2014 in Sutherland auditorium. | Anna Warner/THE CHIMES

 

While most students participate in Torrey Conference by attending the sessions and workshops, student volunteers participate behind the scenes to create an atmosphere that both provokes and welcomes the campus into conversation.

Over 150 volunteers spent most of Monday and Tuesday setting up, preparing slides and decorating for hours into the night. These many tasks prepare the campus for the events to come over the next few days, from the main sessions and breakout workshops in the various auditoriums to the peace altar at the Bell Tower and prayer rooms across campus.

When sophomore sociology major and Torrey Conference Logistics Coordinator Olivia Ramzi sent out a notice to volunteer over social media, she did not expect for so many to become involved.

“It’s definitely, I don’t want to say, a challenge,” Ramzi said. “It’s been really rewarding at the same time just learning responsibilities, but just having 150 people under your belt and trying to answer all their needs. I think my expectations are just to be really flexible because this a conference that requires a lot of work.”

Several Torrey Conference volunteers serve to earn chapel credits, while others work towards purposes beyond receiving credit. Students earn one credit for every two hours they work, with a maximum of four hours. Even those who volunteered for the credit alone have found that they can have a much wider influence.

“I thought it would be fun,” said sophomore history major Ruth Ng. “You get to meet really interesting people. People have different reactions when you greet them, and you get to work with different people. It’s a whole bunch of people working together to make this one overflow site just flow well.”

Many serve not merely for the credit, but because of their desire to impact the student body.

“When they come in, we welcome them and say good morning,” said sophomore math major Hanna Yi. “I think even just ushering them in was a way of making them feel welcome, so they don’t feel lost. Some of them were tired, some were really excited and I got to interact with them. During that time, there was a group of people that came late and even afterwards they were thanking me. I was really happy I got to help them.”

Sophomore political science major Joy Nguyen works with the worship team to prepare the digital presentation for the conference sessions. This involves arriving to the program 20 minutes early and coordinating with the worship band and site manager to verify the set list

“It takes a lot of people to make big conferences like this happen, so I’m happy to just volunteer my time to make it possible, and make it a good experience for everyone,” Nguyen said. “From what I’ve heard and from my discussions with other volunteers, I think the mood is just that everyone is ready and excited. It’s go time. It’s all hands on deck right now.”

Despite the long hours, volunteers are upbeat and appear to be bursting with anticipation about the response from other students about the conference outcome, Nguyen said. When appointed to the coordinating position, Ramzi dealt with the pressure with the same anticipation.

“They kind of just gave me the guideline that ‘this is how we are going to do things so go ahead and implement it.’ So I’m like, alright, I got it.” Ramzi said.

Even after the launch of the conference on Wednesday morning, the volunteers’ jobs are only beginning. The volunteers working behind the scenes see the conference as a growth opportunity for campus, and a result of combined effort.

“It will have a lot of impact on student growth,” Nguyen said, “Just from hearing the vision for it and the vision behind the theme. It’s really pertinent to the Biola student body and our world as a whole right now.”

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