Two months have passed since I returned from my last recruitment trip. Two months have passed since staying at home and spending 8+ hours behind my computer on a daily basis became the new normal. Two month of cancellations and reinventions have passed. It seems time for an update.
There are days where I am stuck in a thought loop that goes roughly like this: Oh, if life were normal, I would be doing x today (imagine x being anything from hosting a group of international counselors at the UCR campus to presenting at a conference in South East Asia or talking to students and their parents at a Study in Holland event in North Macedonia) – Life really isn’t very normal right now – Why does everything have to be cancelled? – When will things go back to normal? Will they ever? You can imagine these are dark days. There are other days where memories from such work events in past years pop up and I can’t help but smile, looking forward to when we may meet again. Most days, however, are a rollercoaster experience from one to the other.
But reminiscing about what should have been, or dreaming about what might be, is obviously not the only thing I have been up to. Life goes on and so does my job. Spring is normally a time in which we do a lot of recruitment events together with the Dutch Research University Consortium (a group of seven Dutch Research Universities UCR is part of). We are missing a lot of in person opportunities, and while we are each joining online fairs individually, there is strength in doing events together. As a result, we started talking about hosting an online event. Similarly, within the UCR Communications Team we started working on an online Open Day. For each, similar questions came up. How can we reach most people globally? How can we give a fair chance to each university on this event? How are we having students engage with all our professors? Can we expect people to watch videos beforehand? Will people understand if they have to move around an join several different Q&A sessions running parallel? By now, the first editions of each of these events have taken place. They were both extremely successful in their own way. Over 500 people signed up for the Study in Holland event. 130 odd people attended the very first UCR Online Open Day. Now it is back to the drawing table, evaluate and see if we can host something similar again before the summer.
At the same time, new challenges are ahead for myself and my team. What are we doing for Graduation? With the International ACAC Summer Conference cancelled, how will we catch up and learn as we normally do in summer? My heart broke a little being involved in each of the decisions to cancel. As a UCR graduate I feel the pain of our soon-to-be-alumni as they have to say goodbye to this place in a way that it is anything but ideal. As an International ACAC member I know how much people look forward to our annual moment of connection, bonding and reflection. Luckily for me, my heart is healing as I see the efforts made to make sure these moments can still happen, albeit in a different for. As a member of the UCR Communications team I am inspired by the creativity of many of our students and our faculty as they propose ideas for an online graduation. As an International ACAC board member I am amazed by the willingness and passion of our members to ensure professional development can go on as usual.
So, while many questions remain (and oh how I wish I had an answer to all the questions fired my way every day), I remain convinced of what I wrote at the beginning of all this: As long as we take care of each other and ourselves, get creative, are flexible, and, most importantly, do things together, we will be just fine.