With the school year going fully online, connecting people in the virtual setting is a challenge but UP ALCHEMES’ Blockhandling team was determined to give freshies a warm welcome.

This year’s blockhandling activities all led up to the recently concluded Fresh Day held last September 5. Rather than the usual two-part event of team activities and getting-to-know-you chatter held usually at the Sunken Garden, Fresh Day this year became an afternoon of interactive virtual challenges and fun games – a chance to bond with blockmates and upperclassmen right before the semester begins.

Thirty freshies and 40 members were present at the said event and from 1PM to 5PM, different tasks were given per hour. These tasks included taking creative self-introductions, forming a shape with blockmates, singing songs, writing haikus, color-coordinating, and mukbang. To top off the day was the Fresh Day Bingo, conducted through an online chat platform, which gave a variety of prices to the lucky winners.

Aside from Fresh Day, other activities held prior include the Ultimate Race 2020: Boodle Fight, Fresh Eyes – a vlog series, Freshie Slambook, and Freshie Tips. All of which were designed to fit the current situation while still supporting the project’s essence.

When asked about his motivation for this year, project manager Wayne Sazon mentioned the points of improvement from last year’s BH and highlighted the importance of having a support system despite the lack of physical interaction. The journey was not smooth sailing all the time, despite having anticipated the shift to online means when the previous semester was cut short. Factors like internet connectivity, technical skills needed for the platforms, geographic limitations, and accessibility were heavily considered during planning, aiming to maximize interactions whilst ensuring that everyone feels comfortable. Even with the difficulties encountered, the positive feedback from the freshies felt rewarding and in PM Wayne’s words: “Sobrang nakakataba ng puso at nakakawala ng pagod.”

He also left a message for the freshies: “Para sa mga bagong Iskolar ng Bayan, you are all doing so well! Please always take time to do what makes you happy. Nandito lang ang mga ate and kuya niyo para tumulong. Padayon!”

The success of this year’s BH activities in the new normal serves as a testament that no barriers are too large to overcome in matters of community – of opening doors and of making freshies feel more at ease as they begin their college journey.