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University of Maryland, College Park

Resilient VSA of the Year

Questions and Answers

What were the biggest challenges to your VSA as a result of the novel Coronavirus pandemic and how did your VSA overcome them?

Our biggest challenges were maintaining the member excitement and engagement after our culture show. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, a good number of our members who normally become more active after culture show were unable to demonstrate that passion afterwards. Additionally, member and executive board bonding had progressed well up until school was moved online, making it more challenging for everyone to maintain relationships that started due to conference or culture show. However, we were able to overcome these challenges by hosting a number of Zoom calls and hangouts that allowed the members to bond. We also increased our social media presence in order to be more engaged with our members. This helped, especially on Instagram, as advertising our activity helped sustain the excitement and feeling of family in VSA.

What new or innovative ideas did your VSA create in order to maintain member activity or serve your members during the end of the Spring semester? What was the outcome of the innovations in terms of goals met, successes, and failures?

After our classes were moved online and everyone went home, we utilized Zoom to see if we could do more events in the Spring. We had to reformat elections to take place in an online format, but most importantly, we created a spring Zoom event/raffle fundraiser called “Ok Zoomer” that allowed new and old executive board to collaborate. We capitalized on the ability to create different breakout rooms on Zoom, thus having different activities in each room, like learning Vietnamese words, learning TikTok dances, and origami. We had larger turnout than expected and saw even newer members come out, as the smaller Zoom rooms helped us bond online. This idea was still difficult in implementation, as allowing members to choose which room to go into led to some rooms with a small number of people. However, we saw this event as a success, as rooms with a small amount of people were able to talk more intimately! 

What lessons and solutions are your VSA taking away from this experience in order to prepare for the next school term and move forward during uncertain times?

This event helped us prepare for the upcoming school term as we had to familiarize ourselves and our members with the possibility of online events. Online engagement is particularly difficult, especially in allowing for individual bonding. However, we have more freedom to create even more activities that are online and a fun way to bond. Also, it allows members who live farther away to engage as well, whereas in-person events would not allow the same. Currently, we are still waiting for our university to announce the plans for our fall term so that we can adjust our schedule accordingly. However, this time has taught us adaptability and creativity. In the future, we are still planning on implementing social distancing if we are able to have few in-person events. Most likely, these events will be outdoors and will be modified to ensure the safety of our members, without sacrificing member activity. 

Additional links:

https://www.facebook.com/events/235676167534767/