Homecoming; screenshot from UBCO Homecoming

On September 25th, UBC Okanagan kicked off their annual Homecoming weekend, which lasted three days. The theme of Homecoming has always been to create a sense of connection to the UBCO community, no matter how near or far from the campus we may be.  Homecoming is a tradition that the UBC community cherishes. Students, alumni, and staff look forward to kicking off every academic year with Homecoming.

Not surprisingly, this year the UBC Okanagan community could not celebrate Homecoming together in person. Thankfully, UBC was able to virtually translate fun and school spirit through Homecoming at Home instead; a virtual experience of Homecoming and its events.

Homecoming began with a virtual opening ceremony on September 25. This opening began with a heartwarming tour of the UBCO campus, highlighting the memories students and alumni have made throughout their university experience.

“These were some of your glory days whether you knew it or not in the moment. These moments both big and small, shaped you. They made you resilient, resourceful, unstoppable.”

This tour was followed by opening remarks by President Santa J. Ono. He acknowledged that students were tuning into virtual Homecoming from all over the world to participate in the “premier celebration of school spirit, of students, alumni, and the UBCO community.”

Ono also stated that 2020 is an especially significant year for Homecoming as UBCO is celebrating its 15th anniversary since opening in 2005. Ono’s remarks were followed by an entertaining performance by the UBCO Beats current members and alumni performing an acapella mashup of “15 years of Hits” to honour UBCO’s 15th anniversary.  

In addition to this performance, students and alumni were introduced to Lesley Cormack, the new Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the Okanagan campus. Cormack discusses how it has been a different year and how 2020 is a part of all our unique journeys. She states, “no matter where you are in the world, we are still connected.” At the end of the day, whether you are from Canada, China, Ireland, or Spain, we are all connected to UBCO. We are all a part of one big community.

The ceremony continued with a hilarious interpretation of UBCO professors reading comments from Rate my Professor - a website in which you can give your professor a score and comment on their teaching abilities. Finally, Scott Helman, a Canadian singer-songwriter famously known for his hit-single “Hangups,” provided an equally entertaining performance.

Staying true to the overarching theme of creating a sense of connection to the UBCO community, Ono concluded the evening with the following statement,

“While today we are physically apart, the UBC community has come together in an incredible way to celebrate UBC Okanagan Homecoming together virtually. As we conclude our program,  we hope this program has provided you a renewed sense of connection to UBC Okanagan, your fellow alumni, classmates, professors, and your UBCO community. Remember our motto Tuum Est - It's yours. UBC is yours, and through Alumni UBC, it always will be.”

One of the Homecoming themes for this year was “Sunny Days Ahead,” to appropriately start the semester on a positive note considering current online circumstances. There were many virtual events offered, including “cooking classes, wine tasting, an online trivia quiz and a family-friendly drag storytime” as well as accessible online classes such as Drawing 101, Visual Journaling 101, and Stretching & Movement: Working from Home.

Alumni UBC also sent out Homecoming at Home kits to further foster Homecoming excitement and engagement, and coloring books and stickers were made available to download for an extra shot of school spirit.

UBC Okanagan even treated students beyond a virtual experience during Homecoming. Comma offered free UBC Okanagan Apple Pie donuts and coffee on September 25th, 2020—a sweet way to celebrate Homecoming weekend.

Photo provided by Rachel Macarie, taken at UBC Okanagan

Moreover, the virtual event titled “Stretching & Movement: Working from Home” provided useful information for the UBCO community, especially since most people are now working long hours from the discomfort of their desks and office chairs.

Consultant Occupational Therapist Aman Rangi was the instructor of the virtual class, with moderation provided by Tara Newell. Aman Rangi provided a professional insight into ergonomics and gave helpful tips and tricks for how best to safely work from home.

Aman Rangi defined ergonomics as the “applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely.” He explained that poor ergonomics can result in strain or injury over time, and that most people do not have appropriate set-ups at home.

He states, “Many of my colleagues and myself are seeing an increase in injuries and strains from working from home… a lot of this can be attributed to a lack of ergonomic equipment… prolonged working in these periods, and also, the fact that we’re taking less breaks now.”

Rangi explained that ‘sitting is the new smoking’ and to minimize injuries, it is important to apply the 90/90/90 rule: “What you want to do is ensure that your ankles, your hips, and your knees are all bent at 90 degrees.”

He also emphasized the importance of incorporating micro-breaks into the day (a change in position) for 5 minutes after 30 minutes of work, to increase productivity and reduce exhaustion or injury. He demonstrated stretches that people can do while working, like neck rolls or ‘chair yoga.’

Though Homecoming 2020 looked different from previous years due to COVID-19, UBC Okanagan did not fail to generate significant school spirit and enthusiasm for the event.

“While we are offering events for Homecoming Weekend 2020 remotely, we are taking time to celebrate the importance of connection...The weekend is an opportunity for alumni to reconnect with former classmates and bring the broader UBC Okanagan community together,” states Lesley Cormack, UBC Okanagan Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Principal.

Rewatch all of the Homecoming events here: https://ok.ubc.ca/homecoming/