Happily ZOOM-ing along

written by Grace Franklin 

The best thing about lockdown for me is….  well, we’ll find out on Wednesday 22 April 2020 from Wellington’s International Welcome Club members who now meet via ZOOM instead of in the Crypt Café.  The theme will help us ensure that all the International members have an opportunity to chat in a different way from the way we’ve been used to in the weekly CONVERSATION CORNER.

This new format is proving to be a great way to get to know people even better than before.

Last week we had two Club members who are now both living and working in Shanghai but they didn’t know each other till now.

We’ve discovered among the native English speakers who are the ‘leaven in the bread’ that they have many hidden talents.  Several are taking wonderful pictures of spring as they stroll through their local parks during their daily exercise walk. (see attached) This could well lead to a Summer Programme Away Day outing for the Club members.

One is involved in a writing school. A few are emptying cupboards, boxes or clearing the attic.

A talented knitter is turning the heel on four needles to make rainbow socks.

One – who is choosing to remain inside their apartment building during this time –  is using the stairs for exercise.

A cartographer whose study wall is – naturally – festooned with maps, shared a Herald cartoon that sums up today’s world in a very witty way.

2020.04.21 GF cartoon
Herald cartoon that sums up today’s world in a very witty way
2020.04.21 Lai
Lai doing the ‘technical stuff’ for guest speaker Abdulla from Kuwait (back when we could still meet physically!)

Our two ZOOM experts  Liz Davidson and Lai Zhenhong – who was our Friday assistant – do the technical setting up of the zoom sessions.  I’m learning to do that but still haven’t mastered it.

One of the Club members who has actually had the virus himself and – thankfully – is now recovering,  is also going to set up a session. We’ve worked out over the past few weeks that too many people in a session can be difficult to manage. We have had an average of 30+ people in total, over two sessions.

So we aim to have more sessions with fewer people in each one. That way there will be more chance to chat and – what is more important – more opportunities for the people using English as another language to practise their language in a comfortable, relaxed environment.

If any Wellington person who is competent at setting up ZOOM meetings, is available to set up one for the Club on a Wednesday, we’d welcome their input.

Countries where people have ZOOM ed in from include Azerbijan, China, Kazakhstan, and Turkey.

Nationalities of Club members participating from other points in the UK range from Kenyan and Kuwaiti to Palestinian and Spanish. Zoom has provided a way to keep us all in touch.

We help each other in many ways. We’ve got masks to distribute to those who need them. We’ve tried to encourage those who’ve been downhearted with the present restrictive circumstances. We’ve comforted those who have been bereaved. And we are constantly supporting those with all the human issues that were here before the virus and will remain after it too.

Right now our biggest challenge is to find a man’s BIKE for a tall refugee among us.  Anyone got a bike they don’t need/use?  Fingers crossed…. Now explaining that phrase could provide a theme for next week’s ZOOM Conversation Corner!

PS  Just as Rebecca is keeping the Wellington website lively during this HOME STAY time, the International Welcome Club is trying to keep its facebook pages busy and interesting too. Have a look: https://www.facebook.com/groups/38834589841 where you’ll find a link to another page too.

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