November 15 of this year was a wonderful yet somewhat nostalgic one for past residents of Freedom (Milner) Hall, University of the West Indies – St. Augustine Campus.
It was their 40th grand virtual re-union (1975 – 1983) held via ZOOM, an event that still manage to come off flawlessly despite it being virtual.
However, this was not the thinking as the year unfolded and COVID-19 made its entrance, upending many plans and threatening the successful planning of the event.
But a small core group which connected via WhatsApp would not allow COVID-19 to deter them in planning the event. Motivated and determined, the group had some success in growing its numbers, sharing past memories, their life experiences and their visions for the future.
“We strongly feel that individually and together we have a lot more to contribute in our strife to leave behind a better place. In this regard, we have formed a Steering Committee to guide us in these pursuits,” the group noted in a release aimed at getting past residents to attend the reunion.
The group identified four pillars to build on namely, the Virtual Hall Reunion via ZOOM, to keep the momentum going and further the expansion of the group; Establishment of a Communication Medium that would allow past residents to place and receive information, with the possibility of an Interactive Website linked to established platforms; A Mentoring Project, with a focus on youth engagement, exploring, coaching, mentoring, etc.; and a platform for Partnerships (collaboration opportunities) and Sponsorships, networking past students with a possibility of expanding to larger circles.
Past residents had a lot to celebrate on November 15. Not only did they engage, reconnect, rekindle and reaffirm as they reminisce, share photos and lessons learnt and even raise a virtual toast. They also shared their life stories and expectations to keep them committed.
Sadly, like in everything else, not every past resident was present at the reunion as quite a few have departed, gone to meet their maker. Time was taken to remember them.
The core group that started it all comprised Kingsley “Inch” St. Hill (Saint Lucia), R.A. Peter Jenkins (Saint Kitts and Nevis) and Howard Barrett (Jamaica).