Groups of people occupied with setting up and carrying things around, six Alaskan Malamutes pulling a wheeled slide along the track, and wind moaning lowly in the chilly weather were all I saw when I got there. Because of the great contrast between two small lonely white tents and the capacious East Campus Athletic Village field, I wasn’t excited about Winter Carnival despite the inspiring and cheerful working atmosphere. I went straight into the tent and instantly plunged into my volunteering commitment with immense zeal, along with everybody else. People started to come earlier than I expected. Just one moment after my club booth settled down and everyone’s jobs were assigned, the first two guests came into the tent and played our game.
The band wasn’t completely ready until 11:30 am. When the orchestra started its play with a drum rhythm, the atmosphere in the tent suddenly climbed up to climax. Everybody moved their bodies to the beat, enjoying the high spirit brought by both the music and various games.
For people who missed Winter Carnival, I think I have to explain the way it works. Winter Carnival is organized by the Rensselaer Union with the participation of fraternities and clubs. They each hold a different booth or section, where you can win tickets by playing games. And then, by exchanging the tickets you earned, you can receive prizes like blankets, teddy bears, T-shirts and cups.
During my volunteer shift, I didn’t notice time passing at all, since the passionate crowds continuously swarmed into the tent. Whispers—which actually sounded like yelling during that time—cheering, laughter, and the fiery mix of revitalized orchestral music with relentless drumming flew everywhere in the tent. I met people who I lost contact with after Student Orientation and Navigate Rensselaer & Beyond. I also befriended new people and got to know them better. Such a great event enabled me to meet different people and see the energetic and amiable side of Rensselaer, which is definitely a defining characteristic that I never paid great attention to. Despite my first impressions, I had a wonderful Saturday this weekend spending time with club members, helping with the event, and talking to different people.
I didn’t have time to see those lovely and fast Alaskan Malamutes until the very end of Carnival. I stood at the edge of the track and finally saw these smart and dedicated creatures shaking themselves and panting after heavy exercise. The trainers had to stop me from touching or getting closer to them at that moment. She explained: “You would feel uncomfortable being hugged or surrounded when you just finished running and feel really hot, right? I believe for dogs, it is the same.” I respected her protection for them greatly, since she was thinking from the Malamutes’ standpoint. But later, when I left ECAV, I saw more Alaskan Malamutes caged in less than one meter cubed. The darkness and limited room seemed to make them fluttered and upset. I started to doubt whether the trainers were really concerned about their mental health instead of racing capability; shouldn’t they try to create more comfortable spaces for the dogs, especially in the carriage? I didn’t question trainers face-to-face, but I have a strong impulse to write it down here. Hopefully, this concern of mine can be addressed by the readers.
Winter Carnival, conclusively, was a great success. Everyone there had fun either with helping out or enjoying games and the company of friends. But, to be honest, when our club first arrived, we were a bit confused, since we had no idea about the Union’s arrangement. The only reason for that is the lack of communication. Clubs also have numerous ideas about the design of activities and booths. Had the Union more actively communicated with the clubs, I believe the Winter Carnival could have been more interesting and colorful.