Leading TWU Access Chapters: How Kevin Chai makes community life better for others
“We discovered possibilities of a virtual collegium, pop-up collegiums at local coffee shops, as well as many fun online events to foster community during COVID. It is especially cool to see fellow students living in different places connecting with each other through online events.”
— Kevin Chai, third year Business student and TWU Access Chapter coordinator
As an international student who commuted to TWU for classes, Kevin Chai remembers that his first year at university felt lonely and isolating, without connections to others outside the classroom.
Chai wanted to make the experience better for others.
“This motivated me to reach out to the community in my second year through joining student leadership,” he said.
Chai became a chapter coordinator for TWU Access Chapters, a community-building initiative born out of a pandemic year. He also led activities for TWU Intercultural Programs, fostering connections among different cultural groups on campus.
Whether it is virtual karaoke or a watch party for the NBA live stream finals, Chai is constantly looking for creative ways to build connections among people at TWU.
Rising to the challenge
Born and raised in Xi’an, China, Chai first came to Canada in 2015. Currently a third year Business student at TWU, Chai is “triple specialized in Finance, Accounting and Marketing.”
He explained, “I chose three specializations because they provide me with well-rounded perspectives in the changing business world today.”
“The truth is that I also want to challenge myself academically in university,” he said.
Chai not only pursues academic ambitions but strives to build social connections as well. His leadership with TWU Access Chapters this year demonstrates his commitment to give back to the campus community.
According to Chai, “TWU Access Chapters is a new program arising from the global pandemic, serving as bridges to connect off-campus students and build relationships.”
Building virtual community in Canada and around the world
Chapters are divided by geographic area. TWU students can find community among students who live in their locale.
Locally, there are six different chapters spanning Fraser Valley to Vancouver. Outside of B.C. there are four chapters serving Canadian and global communities. Chapters members connect on Microsoft Teams and other platforms.
Chai explains how the chapters provide TWU students with opportunities to experience connection and belonging through small group events like movie nights, virtual games, and Zoom study sessions.
Chai himself hosted many events over the past year. He lists Among Us game night, Jackbox game night, Superbowl live stream watch party, and NBA All Star Weekend live stream watch party among the virtual events he has hosted with his chapter teammates.
Overcoming the challenges of pandemic restrictions
Chai admits that it has been a challenging year to organize in-person events, with the constantly changing provincial health restrictions, especially last fall.
“Many times all chapter coordinators had events planned, locations booked, and even supplies purchased, (but) we had to cancel the event according to the new restrictions posted the night before the event.”
Yet, Chai still gleaned some good lessons. “This really motivates the chapter team to be more adaptable and creative regarding future events,” he said.
“We discovered possibilities of a virtual collegium, pop-up collegiums at local coffee shops, as well as many fun online events to foster community during COVID,” he continued.
“It is especially cool to see fellow students living in different places connecting with each other through online events,” he added.
Ideas for the future
Chai believes that the TWU Access Chapters program has challenged the community to imagine how TWU could better serve commuter students in the coming years.
“I am proud to work as a chapter coordinator in Trinity’s first ever Access Chapter program,” said Chai.
“Although sometimes the turnout isn’t as good as expected, the stories we hear, and connection and relationship built in this program, is incredible.”
He concludes, “Thank you to all staff and student leaders who have helped make this initiative a reality!”
See also: How TWU’s Norma Marion Alloway Library innovates to meet the needs of current and future students:
About Trinity Western University
Founded in 1962, Trinity Western University is Canada’s premier Christian liberal arts university dedicated to equipping students to establish meaningful connections between career, life, and the needs of the world. It is a fully accredited research institution offering liberal arts and sciences, as well as professional schools in business, nursing, education, human kinetics, graduate studies, and arts, media, and culture. It has four campuses and locations: Langley, Richmond-Lansdowne, Richmond-Minoru, and Ottawa. TWU emphasizes academic excellence, research, and student engagement in a vital faith community committed to forming leaders to have a transformational impact on culture. Learn more at www.twu.ca or follow us on Twitter @TrinityWestern, on Facebook and LinkedIn.
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