As we began our semester at MIT, excited to embark on this one-year journey in the Supply Chain Management master’s program, a question many of us were asking was: how do we get to know each other, have fun and how do we do it safely?
In past years, people met in person for the first time during orientation and got to know each other through MIT events, dinners, and nights out in the town. In 2020, none of this was on the table – so we had to get creative!
Our biggest priority was to keep people safe and stay within the recommended guidelines for group gatherings. This was a hard task as we had to pay attention to new protocols given by MIT and the state of Massachusetts that changed throughout the semester. For instance, Massachusetts was allowing up to 6 people per table at restaurants (and bars, as long as food was served). MIT created some spaces on campus where up to 10 people could congregate while wearing masks. Indoor events were severely limited – no more than 10 people could be together indoors at one time. Despite the restrictions and wanting to keep people as safe as possible, we were able to plan some fun events. Thankfully, Boston’s weather held out for most of the fall which allowed us to stay outdoors through most of November.
A small group of our cohort ventured out to explore the Freedom Trail on a beautiful fall day. The Freedom Trail is a path throughout the city of Boston that stops along many historical and tourist spots. You can follow the trail which is marked on the sidewalk from Boston Common to Charlestown shipyard! Our group had a lot of fun and enjoyed getting to know each other while learning some Boston history!
A traditional fall activity! We set up groups of no more than 4 people to drive up to Parlee farms. Every year this farm hosts apple picking of different varieties, a pumpkin patch, flower picking, and bakery offerings for purchase. Another beautiful fall day allowed us to enjoy the time together outside and scour the orchard for the best apples! Masks on, of course! And, we had apples for days!
Some of our international students were really excited to celebrate Halloween for the first time. This year, because of COVID, traditional costume parties and trick-or-treating were off the table. So, we participated in the nostalgic creation that is pumpkin carving. For many families in the United States, pumpkin carving is a yearly tradition done before Halloween. Often, you leave the pumpkins outside your front door and put a candle inside which shines through your carving at night.
For this event, we utilized MITs outdoor circles next to Tang hall – a graduate dorm that hosts some of our cohort. Some of the pumpkins turned out amazing and it was fun to teach the ins and outs of pumpkin carving to many who had never carved a pumpkin!
Random Group Dinners
This bi-weekly event was probably the most popular event this fall! Every week, members of the SCM cohort who wanted to participate, filled out their availability for a group dinner. The list of available people were then randomized into groups of up to six people! This group had a leader who coordinated a date, time, and restaurant that worked for everyone.
One of the hardest parts about attending school during COVID is not being able to meet everyone and get to know our classmates. The group dinners enabled people to jump out of their friend groups and enjoy a meal with people they otherwise would not have hung out with.
Of course, as COVID cases continued to increase in the state of Massachusetts during November, we had to cancel a lot of these events, but we are hoping to continue in the Spring – restrictions, and safety permitting!