To mark Development Weeks, Chloe Buckley, a Residential Life Assistant in Queen’s Accommodation reflects on a year like no other.
In celebration of getting through this challenging academic year, we have been reflecting on the newly evolved meaning of ‘making connections’ and examples of how we have adapted to overcome the difficulties posed by the pandemic in making connection with others. I think it is fair to say that we have all had enough Zoom and Teams calls to last us a life time; from quizzes, to classes and from virtual gym sessions, to simply catching up with a friend, but these tools have been instrumental in allowing us to continue to make connections, and preventing us from feeling disconnected in uncertain times.
Being a Residential Assistant in Queen’s Accommodation this year, ensuring students’ did not feel isolated, lonely or unsupported was a major concern for me from the first day of training, as University can be challenging in so many aspects at the best of times, never mind contending with lockdowns, isolation periods, Covid-19 tests and online learning. Despite all of this, as an RA team, I think we have triumphed in the face of the impossible task of coming up with original online events which would entice students to join, over watching the latest crime documentary on Netflix; and managed to build and maintain connections with students, even behind the masks and screens at the Coffee Bar. It has been so rewarding to help students connect with others as well, as even that small amount of social interaction, in a time where making friends has been limited and policed by restrictions, is imperative to happiness. It has also been incredible to see the work of the Wellbeing Team throughout this year, connecting with and supporting students in their personal and academic endeavours; as well as the Residential Life Team in assisting us to do our jobs in bringing some fun and relief from the monotony of lockdown-life.
Memories of an unusual year
My best memories of connecting with students this year are often from Grab and Go events, where, although students have not been allowed to stay and socialise, we mastered the act of ‘catching up’, all within the time it takes to make a toastie and I try my best to remember everyone’s names despite the short introductions made behind masks many weeks prior. I am so glad I had the opportunity to be a part of the RA team this year, as the fundamental importance of making connections in university was truly unambiguous, and a delight to help orchestrate.
If you have a story about making connections this year, we would love to hear it! Email the Development Weeks team.