april 2021 newsletter
April 2021 Newsletter
End of the Year
We've finally reached the end of an incredibly difficult and strange year, and we couldn't be more proud of our community members for it.
Despite ongoing challenges, we saw great success with our end-of-the-year events and the conclusion of the collaborative creative projects our students have been working hard on throughout the year.
Though the students have done an incredible job of building a virtual community this year, we eagerly anticipate the opportunity we will have next year to begin to return to more of our typical, in-person programming.
We'd like to share some highlights and reflections from our last few months together, as well as an overall look back at our community experience as we conclude this year's program.
Our Virtual Community
With COVID complications, we had to do a lot of things online this year. Despite such limited opportunities for students to interact in-person, we got to see a wonderful community grow and develop online.
At the beginning of the year, we created a server on Discord, an online platform for messaging and creating servers where many people can communicate and share content with each other. Before the school year had even started, students had the opportunity to connect and get to know each other on a virtual platform.
Early in the year, many students also took to online gaming as a way to socialize with each other. Games like Minecraft, Among Us, Jackbox Party Games and more were great platforms for students to actively participate and spend time doing things together.
Minecraft especially was a great creative outlet for students, as it allowed them to plan and execute creative projects in a virtual environment where they could build together and show off their creations to each other. Being in a space that simulated a 3D, outdoor environment also helped to substitute for some of the lack of real-world engagement.
Another tradition that many students participated in over the course of the year was “Tea Time”, an event that began among last year’s community members in the dorms. Students would gather together, make tea or other hot beverages, and sit to discuss a variety of topics and ideas in a structured but friendly and open environment. This year, some of the students living in the dorm kept this tradition going on the lawn outside Bursely, while spacing out to prevent the spread of COVID. Students also took to hosting this event online, where they could drink tea and talk about some of these same topics over Discord video calls, so that anyone in the community could participate regardless of location.
Living ArtsEngine Symposium and Collaborative Creative Projects
We are pleased to be able to share that this year, we once again were able to hold our end-of-the-year Symposium event for the community.
Each year, students traditionally present the Collaborative, Creative Projects they have worked on in groups throughout the winter semester, followed by an awards presentations and a final, formal wrap-up for the year. Our students did an especially wonderful job this year of overcoming new challenges in figuring out how to create these Collaborative Creative Projects together across great distances, as many groups had members living in different housing environments, some even collaborating across time zones and countries.
Through a special Zoom Webinar event, we had the opportunity to see all of these groups present the culmination of their work, which began in the fall semester rather than the winter semester this year. Congratulations to all of our students on the completion of these incredible works
Looking Forward To Next Year
After the conclusion of an unconventional Living ArtsEngine year, we're preparing to head into another one that will likely still look a bit different than years past, but will hopefully provide more opportunities for in-person interaction and community events. As we begin to anticipate what this new year will look like, we asked some of our upcoming peer mentors for their thoughts:
What are you most looking forward to about being a Peer Mentor next year?
For this event, Peer Mentor Dani Tutak sent students materials to make their own silicone molds of dice, and then pour resin into those molds to make their own dice. By using the process taught by Dani during this workshop, students were able to learn how to cast silicone molds of anything they want.
Raspberry Pi Workshop
Peer Mentors Ted Ivanac and Kendra Kleber teamed up to put on a workshop teaching students how to use the Raspberry Pi, a small computer-like device that allows students to write and execute their own custom programs.
Students had the opportunity to borrow a Raspberry Pi kit from Living ArtsEngine during and after the workshop, allowing them to construct their own circuits at home and control them by programming their Rasberry Pis.
Paint Along With Bob Ross Workshop
Later in the semester, Living ArtsEngine RA Shalin Berman lead students in a paint along with Bob Ross event, where participants followed a tutorial to paint the piece "A Trace of Spring". Students got to take home their own canvases, paints, and paintbrushes, and paint along at home in real-time while socializing over a Zoom call.
Year In Review: Student Memories
Farewell to Ruth Marsh
Living ArtsEngine’s Student Program Coordinator, Ruth Marsh is retiring this year! Ruth has played an integral role in the development of our program and has served the university for over 25 years.
To honor Ruth’s service and dedication to student success, we will be providing financial assistance to Living ArtsEngine Student Leaders in her name. Thank you so much for your consideration in celebrating such a valuable contributor to the Living ArtsEngine program.