I’ve always imagined Rotaract to be this huge machine which was larger than the sum of its parts, a perfect representation of pure synergy, which gravitated to the undertaking of small to large-scale projects that aimed at providing leadership and community service amongst other things. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still hold that view and to further confirm my stance on the matter I’m still told that’s what Rotaract is. However, due to the recent COVID-19 outbreak and the restraints on social interaction it brought about, I’m still yet to see the organization truly flex its muscles as almost all the ongoing projects had to be scaled down in scope significantly in order to comply with the new limitations that the status quo had set on society. And thus, with the entire pandemic in place, increasing every Rotaractors’ stress levels as they all scurry to organize and finish up their ongoing  projects in accordance to their assigned deadlines, we made a pretty bizarre realization.

Ever since the Top Board of Rotaract Arts had changed in July, it created an environment of unfamiliarity amongst the present members. We would then come to realize this was because almost all the newly joined members, who were now pushed to the forefront, had no well or pre-established relationships with the older members. For the record, most first years who’ve been taking up projects and helping out in all the current and immediate past events aren’t very familiar with those they were working alongside with. This had never happened before, simply because we’ve never experienced such a prolonged large-scale practice of social-distancing, especially one of this magnitude. The pandemic had robbed us of the traditional means to properly and gradually get to know one another. And thus, in the face of uncertainty and the potential danger from having a physical gathering to get to know one another, we had to improvise. The idea we finally landed on? The Early Early Show! A small virtual meeting that would allow both Rotaract Arts veterans and newbies alike to get to know each other in the safety of our own homes. We all needed this, an escape from all our work, some time to ourselves to get to know each other and just relax.

When the day of the event finally came around, it started just like any other meeting would: A delay (hey, it’s Sri Lanka, what did you expect? It’s a recurrent occurrence for any scheduled meeting here) followed by, you guessed it! Introductions. This was done through the means of providing answers tailored to a few pre-prepared questions that were presented to us good folk. From our names and where we lived to whether pineapple belongs on pizza among other strange details, if you will. Now, it’s widely understood that the supposed takeaway of the general formality of hosting introductions is for everyone present to get an idea as to who everyone is and I’m sure that it was the case for most people. My takeaway from this introduction session though? It was that both the previous and current President of Rotaract Arts are big advocates of oral hygiene. I mean, Gee, it’s only been like the gazillionth time that they’ve asked us about the colour of our toothbrushes. It started at our orientation back in February and made its latest appearance during ‘The Early, Early Show’. Forget project ‘Espoir’, bring on project ‘Does Mother Know Thou Brusheth Thy Teeth?’. Now, that’s the kind of 2020 energy we need!

As the sole purpose of the event was to get everyone to converse and become comfortable with one another, we were swiftly broken into two teams following the deliverance of introductions. This was done in attempts to ensure everyone would interact through the added need of now having to communicate and coordinate with each another, in order to triumph at the series of activities that were scheduled to follow. The activities served not only as an ice breaker, but also as a very strategic way to break the silence amongst those who weren’t very eager to speak at first. What was a session filled with only a few prominent voices that spoke frequently, quickly evolved into one where almost everyone wanted to chip in, that we had a hard time keeping up with everybody. And mind you, these were some very peculiar activities at that. And through the course of these simple yet fun activities, you really gain a proper understanding of the pool of talent that existed amongst those you were grouped with. Talent necessary to perform very strange feats, that is. We had people who could recognize a celebrity just by looking at their eyes, those that could recognize a song playing backwards without even needing a second to process it and we even had those, lord behold, who were so excited to voice out the answer that they ended up answering questions that were directed at the other team (I’m looking at you, Methmini).

It’s quite hard to sit through an activity and cite that each one didn’t contribute to lightening up the mood. Especially the final activity that the organizing team rolled out, which was very err… interesting to say the least? It required one representative of each team to dress up, dance to a given beat and strike a pose when the music eventually stopped. Seems pretty easy and straightforward, doesn’t it? If only that was the case. In life, I thought I saw it all, until I saw Haadiyah dance to ‘Kandy Lamissi’. My eyes know not what I saw. All that I can confirm is that she would undoubtedly give Lady Gaga a run for her money! Now, it was here that I was kicked out of the meeting as my internet connection decided that it had better things to do and at the time, I just wasn’t sure if it happened due to a connectivity error or if Haadiyah’s swag was just too much for my laptop’s network card to handle. Either way, I was unfortunately unable to live out the last few minutes of the gathering. However, I think it’s safe to say working off the general impressions that both I and our fellow Rotaractors harboured towards the event, that everyone walked away very content with the event’s proceedings. To cap it all off, personally, I think the meeting truly achieved what it set out to do, which was establishing a platform that brought together the organizations’ members and created a fun and effective framework for all of us to socialize in.

If I had to summarize those two hours we spent together, it was without question, a meld of cheers, joy, and laughter. I assure you; it was the complete package. It was wonderful and surprisingly very chill. The event was clearly a labour of love, one that allowed both new and old Rotaract Arts members to casually meet up virtually, to converse and get to know one another. Hats off to the organizers who curated the event and even more so for everyone who participated! We hope that everybody thoroughly enjoyed and cherished the time you spent with us, because it’s going to be quite a while till you enjoy anything again.! Universities are reopening and as such open season is nearly upon us once again. So, get ready to plunge your heads back into deep waters in the days to come as your lectures will arm themselves to the teeth to shoot you with five months’ worth of missed work which is sure to hit you like a brick wall. Endure and survive, fellow undergrads! And we’ll see you in our next edition of ‘The Early, Early Show’!

– Rtr. Vibhath Jayasinghe

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