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Online Lectures, Virtual Travel, and Dancing on Zoom

How HSE events and projects went online during the pandemic

Self-isolation was a challenge that the university took on and dealt with. Students and staff organized events that were key in helping the campus community maintain a positive attitude. HSE University Life takes a look at what the last four months have had to offer staff and students of HSE. 

Research, Support, and Entertainment: Big Projects for Everyone

Where could students meet after class? The Media Courtyard? The Cultural Centre? The cafeteria? No, the meeting place was Minecraft Pokrovka. We talked to the organizers about its launch and what it was like to work on the project, which probably everyone at HSE has heard about by now. If you missed out on the historic event, you can watch the stream by Spravedlivost group, or a news report by TeleVyshka.

Some big events with invited speakers were also held online. The Telling Stories festival included lectures, public talks and live interviews; recordings are now available on the event website. One of the event lectures was dedicated to the life of fashion magazines during the pandemic.

Green HSE joined the HSE Institute of Ecology to organize the Eco+nomics business forum. The event included the Better Living marathon, where the organizers shared information about useful eco-habits, and invited experts spoke about their careers in environmental protection as well as practices implemented by different companies, which help reduce environmental damage. Recordings of the lectures are available on the event group page.

The HSE Lyceum organized an online Media Night, where, for the first time ever, anyone interested could freely access lectures, master classes and activities. You can still watch or read a talk with Galina Timchenko.

‘All Sports. Online’ was an event organized by the HSE Student Sports Club. The invited speakers included Alexander Aksenov, CEO of Sport.Ru, and Andrey Gromkovsky, Head of UFC Russia. All of the lectures are available on the event’s YouTube channel.

HSE RUN, an event that has been beloved by HSE family for man years, was held in digital form for the first time. This year, the participants conquered not only Moscow and St. Petersburg, but Stockholm, Prague, Rome, and London.

The Research Battles organized two battles on Twitch: viewers were able to vote for the best speaker and to ask questions in the comments. The event was followed by an after party on Zoom.

The pandemic did not thwart career events either. In mid-April, the Career Development Centre offered a Career Marathon for all four of HSE’s campuses at once. Students created CVs and responded to job openings, and on the day of the job fair, employers sent job and internship offers.

As educational and social events moved online, we found ourselves pining for ordinary life. This is why the Centre for University Anthropology and Culture came up with the #HSEinquarantine project. #HSEinquarantine aims to record this new chapter of university life lore for posterity. HSE students, graduates, and staff, as well as other visitors of the website were able to talk about their lives in isolation and share their stories, anonymously if they wished

We used to come to the Cultural Centre at Pokrovka to meet speakers from the media, the business community, and politics. Since March 2020, the public talks moved to the Cultural Centre’s Instagram page. The live talk speakers included Ilya Naishuller, Zhenya Kalinkin, Pokras Lampas, and many others.

The Centre for Psychological Counselling joined the Student Initiative Support Centre to organize 73 events as part of Mental Health Spring — a project aimed to support students and staff during the pandemic. We have talked about the results of this long-term project elsewhere. STUDLIFE made a photo project about students’ experiences with self-isolation. 

Kind Projects

The Academy for Schools offered classes in the Minecraft version of the Voronovo educational centre, while the HSE for Kids online camp managed to organize several shifts: the students not only offered topical activities to kids, but helped them with their school lessons. The HSE Volunteer Centre also helped about 12 schools from different Russian regions. Volunteer tutors organized individual and group classes in various subjects for students in grades 5 – 11.

HSE University created a Centre for Supporting Seniors, in which students and staff provide assistance to teachers, staff, and participants of the ‘Moscow Longevity at HSE’ programme. Among other things, volunteers helped seniors learn foreign languages. The digital volunteers helped the older teachers deal with the unexpected workload and adapt to the new working conditions. Volunteers also helped families with children, by organizing online legal counselling and more.

Love HSE published a ‘quarantine pack’—a well-being check-list, prepared with psychologists from the Centre of Psychological Counselling, and a couch exercise guide with The Crow, by HSE Dance and STUDLIFE.

Student Association News

Student associations were the first to contribute to HSE staff and students’ online routine. Every week, HSE DANCE offered online classes in Latin dance, yoga, jazz funk, and other dance styles. HSE Student Mentors, together with Shtopor Media, High School Radio, the Centre for Student Academic Development, and the Student Development Office, launched HSE FM, a university radio station. The student mentors also organized their first inter-campus School.

Cyber HSE organized an e-sports tournament, Crown Four. Stand up HSE organized an open mic night on Instagram, and HSE Khudozhka offered sketching classes. In the Theatre Saturdays project, student actors of the HSE Theatre produced shows on YouTube. Force Majeure offered singing classes, while the School of Mass Media Project Production launched the XCE Factor app, where students can show off their talents.

Online talks were not limited to workshops: meetings continued at language clubs, including the English Speaking Club HSE, HSE Chinese Club, and Hey! Say! Russian-Japanese Conversation Club. The HSE French Club organized online games, while Poboltaem? discussed books in English.

While the Monopoly game servers were overloaded, the HSE Go Club played Go, HSE Chess played chess, and Kontakt Club played online board games. The HSE Association of Intellectual Clubs organized online tournaments on Pentagon, Start League, and Online Hat.

The HSE Tourist Club imitated backpacking tours and spoke about preparing and making a route, while the Travel Club ‘I Like Trip’ organized quizzes about travel.

In their lecture series, the HSE Case School spoke about venture capitals, the HSE Business Club offered online meetings with entrepreneurs, and Russian Hackers organized online hackathons. 

Author: Lyudmila Lychkina

June 26, 2020