The Show Must Go On!

Apr 20, 2020

by FSC Communications Staff

At 8 p.m. on a Thursday evening last week, nine advanced-English students finally had their moment: a public presentation based on the oral history interviews they collected as part of their senior-level course in Creative Non-fiction.

Originally scheduled for April 2, the event — a live presentation — was sadly cancelled by COVID-19 safety measures. Students had already completed their interviews when the campus was forced to close its doors; the class, taught by Associate Professor of English Dr. Catherine Eskin, is service learning, meaning the students performed 25 hours of community service  as part of the course requirements.

While Eskin has taught the course face to face before, the conditions of this iteration of the class were unique. The challenges of remote teaching also provided a solution to the problem: Zoom!

Our service partner, Temple Emanuel Synagogue Lakeland (Temple Emanuel Archive), supported the idea that we put “Polk County Jewry and Creative Biography” on-line and Temple President Allen Shane set up the Zoom event.

The new platform allowed for a variety of unintended outcomes: parents and family of both the students and the people they interviewed were able to come “see” the presentations.

“My family enjoyed tonight’s presentations! My grandparents joined from Michigan, and my Grandmaw wanted me to thank you for making these presentations available," Hannah Kiester '20 said.

Dr. Eskin also took the opportunity to invite alums of the class to the presentation and several took up the offer. Alumna Susan Peace Randall '11, said in the Zoom chat, “Great job! You guys did amazing. This brought back so many memories."

Jenna Rice '12 added, “I’m so glad I joined the zoom presentation. I hope all of you enjoyed Dr. Eskin’s class as much as I did 11 years ago.” For those who were experiencing the public part of the presentation for the first time, there was some trepidation, but ultimately, Alex Bittinger '20 confessed, saying, “I’ll admit that  the presentation was much more enjoyable than I thought” it would be.

When asked if she would run the event through Zoom again, Eskin demurred.

“I still like the idea of having everyone in the same room,” she admitted. Still, “We are all so lucky to have a supportive community, regardless of the platform."