Written by Jess Hardley
Community Development Manager
2020 students had been at the hall for a total of 42 days before it was announced that NZ would be moving to a level 4 lockdown. With life so uncertain, we asked students to return to their homes while they could. Most students scrambled to book flights, buses and ferries in order to get home before the country ground to a standstill. Eight students remained at the hall and they became affectionately known as The Last Ones Standing. Over the course of Level 4 and into Level 3, our bubble consisted of the last ones standing, one RA, 2 chefs, 1 house mum, the Community Development Manager and the Principal.
To maintain the wellbeing of students (and staff) a plan was put in place to ensure the isolation of lockdown didn’t create cabin fever. Social, physical, and mental aspects were taken into consideration as we planned a diverse range of activities that were compulsory.
Eating together as a group created ‘family style’ dining where you could stay in close contact with each other. There were a number of special dinners during this time including a Formal Dinner with Head Chef, Scott recreating his Michelin Star recipes. We also had Japan Night and celebrated Courtney’s Birthday with party style food.
It was also compulsory to spend an hour after lunch in the common room to socialise. In the beginning we had no idea that this group would be so social by choice and this ‘rule’ barely needed to be enforced.
With gyms and other recreational facilities closed, we had to create our own physical activities to remain active. This varied from hip hop dance classes, BoxFit, yoga, and HIIT training led by Hamish the RA. Despite the immense amount of distaste for participating in daily physical activities, all students gave everything a go and we couldn’t have been prouder to see these students push outside of their comfort zones. We think they secretly loved it…
To keep their brains and minds active while there was no Uni work to be done, we set ‘assignments’ at various times. In the first week we held our own Pecha Kucha Night, which set the tone and many inside jokes for the rest of the lockdown. The theme was open but it was a real insight into each students life and personality. Following on from this, we also set them tasks like MasterChef, performing a magic show and Zine making.
We all thought that lockdown was going to be difficult. We believed that time would drag and students would struggle to live within such strict guidelines. However, that was not what happened. Students flourished, formed amazing friendships, tried new things and stuck to a schedule that kept them so busy that time flew. As tough as lockdown was, this was also a special moment in time for the 13 of us. The staff at Bish feel very lucky to have got to now this group so well and this experience will stay with us for a long time.