Devin Thompson describes his resident assistant duties as “welcoming the students, acting like a mentor for them, guiding them, answering any questions they may have and just being a person they can come to and rely on.”
Now, he can add “supplying emotional support llamas” to that list.
Last weekend, Thompson organized an event called “Save your Drama for a Therapy Llama” as part of a Residential Life and Housing series called “Saturday Socials,” which aims to provide students with fun ways to de-stress on campus.
Students spent two hours feeding, hugging and generally hanging out with a group of four llamas on the DeRosa University Center lawn. The llamas travelled to Pacific from a ranch in Sonora called Llamas of Circle Home.
“I originally was thinking of bringing therapy dogs, but a lot of different organizations on campus had already done that,” explained Thompson. “I was just looking into different therapy animals typically brought into campuses, and that’s where I came across the company located in Sonora.”
Thompson, a psychology major, is no stranger to event planning. Through his work with both RLH and ASuop, Thompson has organized a variety of programming for students on campus, from informative events for first-year students to fun activities like pumpkin painting and drag shows.
Llamas, however, were a new experience for him, just like they were for his fellow students.
“I know seeing this really big animal is very bizarre, especially on a college campus,” Thompson said. “But llamas have been shown to be very helpful animals when it comes to dealing with stress. It’s just something meant to be fun for people.”
“Save your Drama for a Therapy Llama” was a big hit with students. “I got to feed a llama,” said Jemin Park, a Media X major who attended the event. “I was hesitant at first, but it was actually a really healing and comforting experience.”
For Thompson, seeing his classmates enjoy themselves at his events makes all the long hours of organizing and planning worth it. “I think it’s very exciting. I didn’t think I’d potentially be doing something like this as an RA,” said Thompson.