Parents and families of the Harvard College Class of 2024 flocked to Cambridge this weekend for their first official invitation to campus after the class’ freshman family weekend was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The weekend, hosted by the Harvard Dean of Students Office, offered programming including open houses, lectures, a group run around campus, and tours of Harvard museums, libraries, and residential houses.
Harvard administrators — including outgoing University President Lawrence S. Bacow, College Dean Rakesh Khurana, and University Marshal Katherine G. O’Dair — addressed families at events centered around student life, Commencement, and careers after graduation.
Though Jaya J. Nayar ’24 approved of Harvard’s decision to cancel the weekend in 2021, she said “it did suck” to miss out on certain traditions due to the pandemic, including a typical freshman family weekend and orientation.
“It is weird to be in my junior year and introducing my parents formally to Harvard for the first time,” Nayar said.
Rodger J. Allen, parent of Anika B. Allen ’24, said his family had a similar experience.
“We would have been discovering all this at the same time, but now she’s able to almost guide for us and show us where everything is,” he said. “We were excited to see what she’s been talking about all this time.”
Yanni M. Raymond ’24 said the lost time was a common topic of conversation during the weekend.
“We’re all talking about how we feel like we missed out a lot on that year, so it’s nice to have this time now,” he said.
Each of the 12 undergraduate houses invited juniors and their families to Friday evening receptions, which included building tours and refreshments.
Brammy Rajakumar ’23, who led tours of Lowell House, said she was excited to see an increase in turnout compared to the junior family weekend, hosted last spring for the Class of 2023.
“I think a lot more people were able to come because it’s not too pandemic-y,” she said. “It’s just so exciting.”
Families were also invited to the Harvard Foundation Intercultural and Race Relations’ Cultural Rhythms Food Festival and Artist of the Year Conversation, which featured actress, writer, and producer Issa Rae. The weekend also coincided with student-run shows, including the Harvard Expressions Dance Company’s Spring showcase.
Aseelah Ashraf ’24 said she was delighted to reunite with her family, who had traveled from Springfield, Ohio, for the festivities.
“It’s been great. I missed my parents a lot because I didn’t go home over spring break,” Ashraf said.
Ashraf’s mother, Ashra Ahmad, lauded the availability of engaging activities for younger family members.
“I took him to the museum,” Ahmad said, motioning to Ashraf’s younger brother. “If you have a younger sibling, I think it really works out because you could do something more exciting with them.”
Despite the weekend’s full slate of programming, many parents interviewed said they were most happy to simply observe their children’s daily experiences.
“I like seeing what our daughter is up to and everything that’s going on and meet the other parents and connect faces and names and gene pools,” said David R. McDonald.
“It was nice to see her in action,” Ahmad said of her daughter. “I know she walks a lot.”
—Staff writer J. Sellers Hill can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @SellersHill.
—Staff writer Nia L. Orakwue can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @nia_orakwue.