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02 September 2020

Reunions in a pandemic

What do reunions look like in a pandemic? Two alumni report on recent online get-togethers.

Screenshot of a zoom call with many individuals.

Since March, we have all adapted to a new and innovative way of keeping in touch with others and this did not stop for our reunions! King’s College London’s Alumni Office has been honoured to assist reunion leaders in planning an online reunion hosted on Zoom.

Have a read of how our online reunions went below, and if you are looking for guidance on how to plan your own online reunion, take a look out our reunions pages.

Medicine 50 Year Reunion

'Six months had been spent tracking down the surviving members of the Kings Medical Faculty, who graduated in 1970 and an early summer 50th year reunion had been organised. Then came Covid-19 and lockdown. As we were all in a higher risk group, there seemed little chance of a face-to-face reunion until the Autumn at the earliest. A virtual reunion was therefore considered. Our group fell into three camps. The enthusiasts, the apprehensive and the decliners, with eventually 60% agreeing to give it a try.

The detailed organisation of a virtual reunion would prove critical to its success. A virtual meeting would be set up using the Alumni Office professional Zoom account to avoid limits on numbers and meeting length, as well as allowing a meeting recording to be made for later review by the group. A member of the Alumni Office staff was nominated as a neutral chair to keep order and see fair access to all.

When the meeting day in early July arrived careful zoom setting advice meant that everyone was able to join the meeting on cue, with critically their names below their videos, and the Chair explained the meeting etiquette. The reunion organiser first gave a welcome. The Chair then called each participant in turn to give a brief update about their career since leaving Kings and their current professional and social situation, with all others in polite mute mode.

Following these updates general structured conversation continued with the Chair inviting people to speak. Finally, a good-natured free for all ensued before the meeting co-organiser gave a summing up and led a toast to the class of 1970! Enthusiasm meant that the reunion overran its allotted time by some margin, which, luckily, was the only aspect of the reunion that did not go to plan.

All the participants felt the reunion had been a great success and commented how easily people had reconnected, even though our last reunion had been 15 years earlier, and not all had been able to attend. lt was also gratifying to see that the outcome of our Kings training had produced a group with successful, varied and fulfilling careers who felt a clear joint bond.'

- Michael Martin (Medicine, 1970)

This Medicine Class of 1970 online reunion took place on 10 July 2020

Nutrition and Dietetics 20 Year Reunion

'At the end of last year, a group of us who were approaching 20 years since graduating from BSc. Nutrition and Dietetics in 2000 decided it would be great to have a reunion. We hadn't seen seen some since graduation and others we had not met for many years. At the time thoughts were to hold it at a London venue such as a restaurant. When we graduated at the turn of the millennium, the world had not long prepared for the 'millennium bug' when people had worried about computers stopping from working and the nation had stockpiled food. Roll on 20 years and some things weren't different. People had once again come through a period of stockpiling but this was now due to a virus rather than the millennium bug. Just like the year 2000 didn't impact on computers, computers were fortunately not impacted by this virus and had become the lifeline for many, so we decided to plan a virtual meeting in order to meet social distancing recommendations.

Although a lot of us dietitians were in touch with each other, we were without some contact details. We contacted the KCL Alumni Office to see if they held any details. Given the dynamic nature of our group, a lot of people's contact details were no longer stored, as they may have since moved. Many of our batch-mates are now living abroad in countries such as Australia, Ethiopia, Malaysia and the USA. KCL kindly offered to put an ad on their website and some alumni received an email invite. Simran from the KCL alumni team kindly offered to allow us to use the KCL Zoom account to host our meeting, which was much appreciated.

Those of us who were at the reunion really enjoyed our time. In some ways not holding it in a restaurant meant we were not distracted by background music or food and we could concentrate on the stories being told. We enjoyed ourselves so much that we have agreed to see each other face to face within the next few months once social distancing measures are relaxed. Some brought in photos to the zoom meeting from 20 years ago to share with the group and when we next meet we are likely to share some more.

Thank you to the KCL Alumni team for making this event happen - we have made some connections again. The only 'second wave' we want to see in 2020, is when we wave hello to our batch-mates when we meet again.'

- Deepa Kariyawasam (Nutrition and Dietetics, 2000)

This Nutrition and Dietetics Class of 2000 online reunion took place on 25 July 2020

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