Their ceremony went virtual. They had a ball

This story was published in FIU News by David Drucker.

Global Learning Program Manager Yenisleidy Simon Mengana was a little hesitant.

Every year, the Global Learning Medallion team hosts a ceremony to celebrate students who have completed the program. These students have finished extensive courses, activities and projects designed to enhance their global perspectives. This year’s recognition was scheduled for late March in the Graham Center, but when FIU announced an immediate transition to remote learning and working, that venue was no longer an option.

The global learning team came together and agreed that the ceremony was an important event. Executive Director Hilary Landorf suggested moving it online. And so Simon Mengana scheduled the Zoom meeting, shipped out the medallions honoring their achievements in advance and sent out the virtual invites. She expected only a handful of people to come.

“I was like, ‘Are they going to join? Are they going to be excited to come participate at 6:30 p.m. in the afternoon?’” Simon Mengana said.

Sure enough, 50 participants showed up, including staff, students, family members and friends.

“They tried their best to make us comfortable with the ceremony and make it as real as possible,” said Andres Eskenazi, a senior dual major in political science and international relations.

Each student had a slide dedicated to them with a picture, quote and a bullet point about one of their major accomplishments in the Global Learning program. Going around the virtual meeting, each student talked briefly about the work they did.

“I loved hearing about other people’s experiences and research. It was just really cool to find out what everyone else was doing as well,” said senior English literature major Anaridia Molina.

Hosting the celebration online actually worked out better for senior liberal studies major Daniella Arce. Before the coronavirus pandemic caused wide travel restrictions, she flew back to her home country of Costa Rica to be with her grandma, who is undergoing serious cancer treatment.

“Even if the virus wasn’t going on, I was really grateful that it was able to be online as well because otherwise, my mom and grandma who live in Costa Rica would not have been able to go. So they had the oppourtunity to not only be able to see it, but they were able to be with me for it as well,” said Arce.

So it seems virtual celebrations may have their upsides.

“It wasn’t only like the camera on the host. Everyone had their moments, their own time,” Eskenazi said.

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