Creating community through virtual events

As students returned to their apartments and hometowns, Global Programming contemplated that they would likely feel isolated from campus and miss the personal connections with one another. In light of this, the team wanted to create a forum for students to connect as they shelter in place, much like they would if they were still on campus.

“Community extends beyond physical gatherings. By hosting virtual programs and engagements we hope that we provide more of the collegiate experience to students away from campus and in different time zones,” said Andy Ng, International Programs Coordinator.

The Zoom video conferencing platform presented itself as an ideal format for virtual gatherings because of its prevalent use and familiarity within the University of California system and the administrative functions it gives to the host of an event. 

Programs that the team has implemented virtually include their weekly Global Cafe, which is a social event for students, staff, and faculty members to interact every Wednesday. The programming is affirmed through the value of conversations and quality of strategies facilitators offer to students, discussing topics ranging from racial and ethnic bias exacerbated by the current pandemic to physical and emotional wellness.

“Students feel affirmed by the conversations and collective stories that they are sharing. This allows them to build community and feel supported,” said Ng

Students have been able to come to these virtual meetings and share experiences that they are navigating while being isolated at home. They have been grateful to de-stress and explore options for taking advantage of CAPS counselors, who continue to work through the crisis.

Programming is currently discussing plans for leveraging virtual events and looking for the benefits of accessibility for students who want to be engaged even when we return to campus.For more information about upcoming events, visit Global Engagement Events.

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