Conversation In Isolation - The Team Meet-up


The restrictions had just eased in the state of Victoria, and you could see small groups gathered in the beautiful parks and gardens of Melbourne. One such group was gathered around the Conservatory Fountain in Fitzroy Gardens. On the outside, it may have looked like another gathering of young adults enjoying the sun and weather after ages. But this group in fact had now met for the very first time after working from behind their computer screens, to alleviate the isolation that hundreds of Victorians had experienced during months of hard lockdown in Victoria. 

With the restrictions easing and the situation looking optimistic, the team behind Conversation in Isolation started thinking about organising a meet-up and gathering. Around this time, there were internal changes being undertaken in the committee. The organisation- which were founded by final-year medical students, were now looking into recruiting new positions to run the organisation, where new volunteers were welcomed into the committee. The fortnightly Zoom meetings now had old and new faces discussing the operation, handover, and running of Conversation in Isolation. The members, while working hard to connect community members and volunteers to form meaningful friendships and relationships, realised that they hardly knew one another beyond their meetings despite working together for close to a year now. And so, they finally decided on having an in-person meet-up for the outgoing and incoming committee members!

The meet-up was set to start at noon, and soon enough the committee members from various parts of Melbourne started coming in, forming a merry group. Picnic blankets were laid down, and platters of food and snacks from sushi, cheese and fruits were spread. Everyone took turns to introduce themselves and shared something fun and interesting about themselves. After the round of introductions and some laughter, they divided to have in-person handovers for the various sub committees. Small groups of two to three members now dotted the area in deep discussion, sharing their experiences and expectations. 

As the afternoon set in, the group became more familiar with one another, and soon the conversations drifted from the organisation to getting to know more about their fellow committee members. Many of the 2020 committee members, who started as students, were now graduates and professionals. They were already reminiscing about what it was like to be students and how they were now "adults'' looking for jobs and apartments to live in. Anecdotes about living in a house with a carpeted washroom; buying a fridge, and measuring its capacity by imagining how many bottles of milk can fit in had the whole group in fits of laughter! The members looked out for one another by reminding each other when their parking meters were up, and they scrambled to move their cars, and re-join the group.

The members soon started leaving one-by-one, returning to their lives and other commitments, and the meet-up was coming to its natural end. The outgoing committee was grateful that they had this opportunity to meet up in person with people they had been seeing two-dimensionally on their computer screens. The incoming committee was looking forward to meeting up again with their team members, albeit through Zoom, but hopeful that someday in the near future, in-person again!

Vineeta Giri
Monash University