Working Together During Social Distancing

Following the shutdown of campus for the spring quarter, we found a student living on campus in Poly Canyon Village during the pandemic that we could ‘follow’ for his everyday, quarantine routine. We chose Shaun Tanaka for the project when Mikaela met him in another Zoom lecture and found out he still lived on campus.

Shaun had an overall positive outlook on the whole situation and so much optimism that was simply contagious, making us look forward to our weekly interviews. 

“Everyday I tell myself that this does not have to be bad. It’s a break and time to take a breath. Work on what you always wanted to, I’m practicing guitar every day. Appreciate having time. Do I miss my friends and my usual social interaction? Of course. But I know it’s for the better,” Shaun said in our final interview. 

It wasn’t ideal taking on our senior project during a global pandemic, but the world was not on hold. While it was easy to see all the negatives in the given project limitations, sometimes the challenge of it made it better.  

“Obviously there were limitations on the reporting during this time, especially with social distancing, making it harder to create the vision I had originally planned… But having to make do with what’s available kind of led the project and allowed me to be more creative and inspired me to do things differently,” Mika said. 

Cal Poly is a campus that is known for all their hands-on work required to graduate. Going cold turkey from lab engagement and all possible campus accommodations to relying 100% on my MacBook Pro wasn’t what I expected in ‘learn by doing’. However, it turned out to be just that; learning by doing. In a circumstance nobody could have foreseen, Cal Poly may have prepared us for something just like this. Having a project that fully depends on human interaction during a time of social distancing proved to be a challenge. But, with all our online resources and knowledge of technology, we were able to continue to learn. 

“I was scared to take my senior practicum online, I had no idea how a reporting class could continue. But honestly, it’s been easier than I thought. Due to the fact that nobody has a really solid schedule, I was able to interview Shaun almost anytime and every time I needed him,” Evelyn said. 

This entire project was nothing like we had expected, like having to compromise on things like relying on our source for b-roll. However, going through this world event while a student has molded our work. We were able to feel inspired from the negatives to create something.