The Daily Tar Heel

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Friday August 12th

Students bring arts skills to tour guide position

student tour guides
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Sophomore JoJo Drake, who applied and was accepted as an ambassador during the first semester of her freshman year, said her experience as a dancer has helped her to feel comfortable with how she presents herself and interacts with the group.

“Dancing didn’t help me hone skills in being articulate, but it did help me hone skills in my body language and feeling comfortable in front of the group,” Drake said. “That was something hard about being a soloist, and tour guides are a solo act. Dance equipped me to feel comfortable in my own skin.”

Admissions ambassadors lead tours for roughly an hour where they give prospective students information about UNC’s history, traditions, academics, housing and student life. Instead of handing out a script, though, the training process for ambassadors emphasizes utilizing personal stories to get students excited about potentially coming to UNC.

Junior Dale Bass, who became an admissions ambassador in fall 2013 and is on the selection committee, said when going through applicants, their team looks for students who are engaging and have a passion for Carolina and a willingness to learn.

“We look for individuals who can tell their Carolina story, not a Carolina story,” Bass said.

Bass, who is involved with UNC Pauper Players and Company Carolina, also counts his arts background as an asset to his experience as an ambassador. He recalls leading a tour through the Pit while Pauper Players was performing and telling his tour he’d be right back before jumping in to perform, much to their awe.

“It’s really helpful whenever you have performances in the Pit because it shows that the arts are ubiquitous throughout campus,” Bass said. “They’re everywhere.”

Getting used to leading tours can be hard, Bass said, but for him, experience being on stage helped him prepare for talking at length to large groups.

“A normal person is not comfortable standing up in front of five or 10 people, let alone 20 or 30 for an hour and a half straight — you get self-conscious. You feel like you should be done,” he said. “But you get a pattern down eventually and get more comfortable.”

Ambassadors also go through a few three-hour training sessions after they are accepted, training committee co-chairwoman Augusta Dell’Omo said. These sessions teach new ambassadors general things like logistics and facts to know and help the tour guides brainstorm stories to share about their time at UNC and explain what brought them here.

“All of our tour guides love Carolina, and they all have a specific story, because everyone comes here for different reasons,” Dell’Omo said. “Getting to hear that, that’s the most interesting part of the tour — hearing them articulate what made this choice the best one for them.”


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