The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted almost every aspect of University of Arizona students’ experiences, from work to school to socializing with friends. Unfortunately, shelter-at-home orders and the closing of dorms have also greatly impacted how organizations at the UA run their day-to-day operations.
For the Filipino American Student Association, COVID-19 has halted in-person meetings but hasn’t stopped them from achieving their spring semester goals and celebrating their involvement in Filipino culture.
The Filipino American Student Association, or FASA, is one of the largest Asian-American organizations on campus. Normally, FASA students meet in the Robert L. Nugent building on the main campus to socialize, celebrate their culture and attend general meetings. According to FASA President Tia Hunt, anywhere between 60 to 90 members attend weekly meetings.
“What makes FASA, FASA to me is that you have a community you can reach out to," Hunt said. "And that you can walk into the room of the general meetings and automatically, it’s just a whole other energy. It’s sad that the physical nature of that is lost, but I do really appreciate the online community that we’ve formed.”
Since the UA announced that classes, clubs and work were to move online, FASA has been hosting general meetings and executive board member meetings via Zoom.
Digital general meetings follow a similar pattern as in-person meetings did. The executive board (also called e-board) members present slides regarding FASA updates and then all members play a game. Between 25 and 40 FASA members have participated in the Zoom meetings, which Hunt said she considers to be very successful.
Zoom isn’t the only online space where FASA e-board members are trying to maintain student engagement. According to Kim Quimio, one of FASA’s media coordinators, they’re also working hard to bring fresh content to members via social media to help foster the in-person connections that members are missing out on.
“I’m trying to get everyone involved as much as possible so that we still feel that sense of community even though we’re miles and miles away from each other," Quimio said.
Before the COVID-19 crisis, Quimio was already trying to branch out and explore new technologies and platforms. Last semester, she started FASA’s TikTok account. According to Quimio, the first video reached 5,000 views in the first 24 hours of being posted.
Quimio’s goals are to encourage Filipino and other Asian-American students to get involved and to connect with the greater Tucson Filipino community through social media.
“I try to stay relevant with the trends. We’re trying to get our name out and garner more membership," Quimio said.
A heavier reliance on social media to foster community connections has given Quimio and her interns a chance to try new things and improve their marketing and graphic design skills.
Quimio and her team members have made an Instagram “FASA Bingo Card” for members to fill out and post on their own Instagram stories, been posting old photos for members to reminisce on and are using Instagram TV to post update videos.
“We’re trying to utilize the ‘tag your friend’ thing, so that we can show everyone, ‘Hey yeah, we’re still here!’ and show potential members, for next year, possibly, that they can join our club," said Quimio.
Social media isn’t the only silver lining for FASA. Even though most of their springtime events, which usually include a cultural festival called FASA Fiesta, participating in Spring Fling on campus, e-board elections and hosting an end of year celebration to send off senior members, have been canceled, FASA’s e-board has been thinking outside of the box, such as turning their cultural festival into a fundraising event.
“We’ve tried to transition [our events] into a different setting and keep the intent but change the way we do it," Hunt said. "One of the biggest things we wanted to achieve through FASA Fiesta was to focus on philanthropy. The Philippines is one of the top ten countries that are being most impacted by the virus and we wanna do our part to support the Philippines in this way."
According to Quimio and Hunt, the year-end celebration and e-board elections will also be held solely online.
FASA’s e-board is also preparing for the chance the UA will still be online in the fall 2020 semester.
“It would be challenging if that happened … but with the way we’ve been able to work through this, I think we’ll be okay," Hunt said. "I think that from what I’ve seen, folks are still really willing to connect with one another and make sure that this organization is successful. I’m really proud of the people who are part of the [organization].”
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