It’s the name of the ‘temple for women‘ being built in Melbourne for the NGV’s Triennial 2020, which opens on 19 December. And indeed, my own Alumni Relations team have been my heroines this year rising to the challenge of COVID-19, pivoting from the start to the very end now that we are disbanding through redundancy or contracts not being extended. It’s been a fantastic team of high performing all-female colleagues who are also friends and all the more poignant to be parting ways through no fault of our own.
Our team Christmas party on Arbory Afloat on the Yarra river this week was tinged with sadness given the last time I saw my colleagues was when we fled La Trobe’s Bundoora campus in March little knowing that our end of year event would also be the next time we would see each other, and to say goodbye. While I am philosophical about things, I am sad to be leaving the University in these circumstances but have accepted it will be a very different environment there and in general over the next couple of years in higher education. For me, I have pivoted (such an over-used word this year!) and started applying for jobs next year and I’m lucky to also have a careers counsellor at my disposal.
Our events team have triumphed with La Trobe’s virtual Open Day, online international roadshows and capped off this remarkable year with GradsFest 2020 – a physically-distanced gowning experience for completing students to bring their social bubble of 4 guests to the Bundoora campus, wear their gown and hat, be presented with their testamur certificate and have their photograph taken with family and friends. Having one of the biggest campuses in the southern hemisphere has enabled La Trobe to be innovative in a largely outdoor environment with staggered 2-hourly time slots spread over the day and throughout the campus during the month of December. There will still be an online celebration on 22 December and one of my last official duties will be editing alumni speaker biographies for each of the 10 different schools and colleges involved.
End of year events have now well and truly started and I spent Friday night at Birichino Cucina & Pizzeria in Balwyn catching up with my best friends where we tucked in to not pizza, but pasta and gelati as well as exchanged Kris Kringle presents. In a year where everything has changed, it was nice to know that some things stay the same including my enduring friendships with people who’ve known me the longest at our annual Christmas event.