As COVID-19 ignited a shift to online engagement, AIIAS students reflected on how their campus event was affected.
As classes move online, social interaction ceased, and decisions to hold a health emphasis week were fraught, public health students had to look for new ways to cope. In addition, the AIIAS community, which has been the target population for the annual Health Emphasis event, has already been struggling with Zoom fatigue. Yet, there were silver linings in many forms.
I spoke with the organizers of the AIIAS Health Emphasis Weekend to have a firsthand reaction and experience of organizing their first online event.
“One of the first challenges of being the first to conduct an event online is how to get the message across,” says Ingrid Dumitrescu, the Master of Public Health (MPH) Club president. “Will we have enough people?”
Trying to adapt the program to fit the online setting is not easy.
“We have limited time, and not all the resources were available. So finally, we come to a point where everything is lined up. But the next question followed, how do we broadcast to a big audience?” Dumitrescu continued.
They worked as a team.
In a face-to-face setup, much of the cost went to resource speakers and boarding. “It was easier this time. We did not have to take care of room and boarding. We learned a lot of new things.”
On the question of whether the online event was able to meet the community’s needs, Ingrid was confident that it did.
“Many people did not know how to face their frustrations, fear, and anxiety. For a face-to-face setup, we could have focus groups, roundtable, one-on-one therapy types of meetings, and so on. But I feel that the speakers were very well articulated in their fields.”
People sent positive feedback, thanking the organizers.
To MPH student Jose Francisco, the pandemic is an opportunity to see collaboration with the media and that pandemic is not the end of everything.
“Seventy percent of the Health Emphasis week was done virtually,” commented Francisco, “It is a huge thing because it is something that the community expects. We modified specific characteristics. Potluck used to be the culmination of the health emphasis weekend.”
The team aims to reach out to people who don’t realize that they need help through the online event.
“Isolation and quarantine are what we are all going through. Unfortunately, people are not aware of their struggles. Many keep it to themselves,” Francisco continued.
As for MPH students the goal is to help the community understand that it is possible to survive and adapt to the new way and pass on healthy lifestyles.
The most important reflection was about the relationship with God that leads to a healthy life. God has given us the capacity to manage our time and the things around us, and the priority is to take care of ourselves. Applying health principles and health programs helps a lot to develop not only our body but also our whole being.
“The topics resonated with many people, whether it be the side of physical health or mental health. We discussed campus life and how the teachers are struggling, and how to support one another. So many eyes were opened to the things that we are doing,” Francisco continued.
It was the first glimpse of what is ahead in the years to come. Were there growing points?
“We formed a rhythm now. [We know] what works. A lot of improvement is taking place,” Dumitrescu added.
I asked if the online event was a success.
“Was it a success? I think so,” she concluded.