Students find creative ways of staying in touch online

Caption%3A+Lily+Chiu+%28%E2%80%9821%29%2C+Iris+Chiu+%28%E2%80%9821%29%2C+Chiara+Filart+%28%E2%80%9821%29%2C+Shannon+Uppal+%28%E2%80%9821%29%2C+Abbie+Oh+Arroyo+%28%E2%80%9821%29%2C+and+Dahlia+Chiu+%28%E2%80%9821%29+participate+in+a+PowerPoint+night+as+a+way+of+staying+connected+online.++Graphic+courtesy%3A+Lily+Chiu+%28%2721%29.+

Caption: Lily Chiu (‘21), Iris Chiu (‘21), Chiara Filart (‘21), Shannon Uppal (‘21), Abbie Oh Arroyo (‘21), and Dahlia Chiu (‘21) participate in a PowerPoint night as a way of staying connected online. Graphic courtesy: Lily Chiu (’21).

In the era of completely online school, many aspects of the traditional Webb school day have changed significantly. Classes are shorter, the schedule no longer rotates, and Wednesdays are free of scheduled academic commitments. One of the things that Webb students have felt the most is the total disappearance of casual social connections between students. 

Though we may not be able to share a meal together in the dining hall or have a study group in the library, like with all challenges presented while being online, Webb students have found their own special ways to stay connected even while apart.  

An ever-expanding list of social media networks has only increased opportunities for communication online, though some are favored more than others. 

Snapchat has been my favorite social media platform because it is very versatile and it is easier to find someone’s Snapchat user than their actual number,” said Xander Kong (‘22). “Also, because of different service providers and international service, messaging through WiFi is a lot easier.” 

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, students have found creative ways to spend time with one another, even if they cannot see each other in person. For example, Abbie Oh Arroyo (‘21) held a “PowerPoint night” with her friends. 

“It was so funny to see everyone make such random and outrageous PowerPoints,” said Abbie. We did it because we saw it on TikTok, and thought it would be a fun way to make a Zoom call more interesting than just hanging out. 

The class of 2024 is facing challenges like no class before has seen, only being able to communicate with their brandnew classmates through a screen. 

“[Making friends] is definitely not as easy as it would be otherwise,” said Aiperi Bush (‘24). I don’t see people outside of my classes as often. We do have a freshman challenge where we’re supposed to reach out to other freshmen to see what we have in common and hang out over Zoom. The main difficulty is that we are sort of missing out on that causal interaction that we’d get from being on campus.” 

Additionally, international students are having some trouble communicating with people within the United States. This is due to the fact that the popular Chinese app, WeChat, was banned by President Trump. At the same time, international students have been able to meet up and connect in person, allowing them some of the social interaction with peers that many have been craving. 

“An example of how the WeChat ban affected us was how we ran the anime club,” said Leo Cheng (‘21). “With our Chinese students we heavily relied on WeChat to communicate club affairs. We were preparing to move to other platforms like discord when we heard the ban was coming.” 

Something that recently became more popular due to the pandemic are multiplayer games such as Among Us, which allow people to play together in small groups, much as they would have during the retreats. These games are a way for students to get together and collaborate, even if they’re really at home in their seats talking over voice chats.  

Chris Chung (22) said, “Connecting with people from school on gaming platforms and multi-user calling platforms like Discord make it a lot nicer to talk to people since we cannot really meet up in person at all. 

This unconventional way of connecting offers an opportunity for students to unwind and simply have a good time with their friends. Additionally, students have also held movie nights with their friends, using features like Zoom’s screenshare to watch movies together.  

We used Zoom, which worked decently,” said Joseph Ferrari (‘22). We did not have much actual talking, but the chat was active. In total we had eight or so people. Because Disney+ is blocked on Zoom, we were forced to use a DVD player. We had some  technical problems because, well, Zoom. Occasionally the sound would lag too far behind the video and we would just pause for a second to let the connection get better.” 

We hope to be able to see each other soon. Until then, Webb students are getting creative with ways to make sure they stay connected online