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When no social contact is allowed and everything moves online, there is only one thing you can do‒ follow. This is exactly what two Stellenbosch University (SU) residences, Irene and Eendrag, did with their cultural evening. With their residents currently spread all over the country (and further), the only way to have a cultural event was to move it to an online platform and hence, the inaugural virtual cultural evening was held.  

Irene Culture HK member, Alissa Coetzee first came up with the idea of a virtual culture evening and then approached David Derman, the culture HK for Irene’s brother residence, Eendrag to ask if they would like to join them, which they did.  

 “In our current situation we had to adjust our mindset with regards to completing the goals that we set out at the beginning of our term.  A virtual culture evening deemed to be the answer to create that much needed platform, even when our whole residence was divided,” said Coetzee.  

Instagram stories was the platform that was decided upon for this virtual culture evening. Derman and Coetzee decided that they would post the same things on their respective stories, at the same time, and in the same order, to bring this event to life. 

“What Alissa and I did really well I think was create the hype for it. We put the poster out there and approached people personally. Sometimes people feel a bit vulnerable to just send the video in of themselves doing something, because they’re displaying a skill and don’t want to be judged, but when you personally approach someone, people actually come out of their shells,” Derman said.   

Derman said that both the recording of the video as well the actual display on the night was a great distraction from everything else that is going on around the world. He believes that it is a way of uniting the residents of the house and that it is a way for residents to engage with one another while apart. 

The virtual culture evening was the first culture evening that Mia van Heerden, a second year Irener, took part in and said she really enjoyed how much fun it was and the fact that so many people took part. “We had to cancel a culture evening last year because there was such a great lack of enthusiasm from everyone’s side, but this one had over 20 people so I found that really Gucci,” van Heerden said.  

“What started as just another culture evening ended up being so much more. I think it was not only a way for artists to express themselves but also a way for our residence members to have a bit of “normality” in this unusual time. It felt as if we were right back in Stellenbosch, surrounded by our fellow Maties. No distance could come between us at that moment.  

“I realised there is definitely a longing for our normal student lives and I think it is important that we don’t let our circumstances stop us from creating those moments that connect us as Maties. Our normal might not be the same for a while but we can change our mindsets and actions to still stay positive in this difficult time whilst allowing us to appreciate it so much more,” Coetzee concluded.  

Eendrag will be hosting more virtual culture events during the term, today with Sonop and next week Wednesday with Helshoogte. These will be available on all the respective Instagram platforms. 

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