As our country was counting ballots and hashing out the results of our presidential election, Keller’s Tiger Challenge program manager Jessica Leung brought together her current design thinking students for a remote Fall Retreat last weekend. The cohort came together on multiple platforms throughout the all-day event but spent a good part of the day on Gather.

Zoom fatigue is real, and I was excited to explore a more playful platform that gave students a mental and visual break from their remote classrooms,” explained Leung. The app allows for game-like socializing, community sharing, and conversations. 

The day started with Tiger Challenge associate Ryan Beeler '23 leading the group in a fun reunion/refection hour. “Taking a moment to reconnect with the Tiger Challenge community, whether in silent reflection or by working together through a design sprint, was refreshing. Amidst the final few weeks of classes, taking time to reset with old friends and classmates gives me that extra bit of energy when moving into finals season,” said Beeler.

The group then popped on Zoom for a shared lunchtime and then headed back to Gather and opened the creative workspace Mural for a design thinking sprint. Working with the prompt, "How might we improve social connection/engagement during remote learning?" associates Jacqueline Xu '22 and Ivy Truong '21 ran the group through design thinking steps of synthesis and ideation. “It was really awesome to see the whole cohort together and to collectively use our design thinking skills to take on a problem we can all relate to at this time,” Xu noted.

The retreat ended in a share-out closing dance party with the student avatars taking on recognizable monikers like President-Elect Biden, Princeton Mayor Lempert, and even President Eisgruber. “In a school environment where everything is remote, we need to innovate ways to separate school and leisure. Using a different platform other than Zoom, we saw a burst in energy and creativity from the group. Overall, the Tiger Challenge retreat was indeed a 'retreat' from our routine,” said associate Courtney Tseng who led the final session.  

Leung was grateful the students took time out of their weekend to reconnect, create innovative solutions together, and just have fun. Crediting the associates, “This event itself may have been one solution to the question they were trying to tackle,” Leung concluded.