FIU employees laid out blankets and yoga mats underneath clear blue skies on Friday, March 5, to enjoy live music, food and conversation at the university’s Employee Appreciation Day Lunch on the Lawn.
Nearly a year after the university community went remote due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the gathering on the grass was warmly regarded.
“We really wanted to create a space for people to come out, enjoy the fresh air and the environment of our campus and see people they haven’t seen in a while,” says El pagnier K. Hudson, senior vice president of the Division of Human Resources and vice provost of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
The Division of Human Resources set up tents outside of the Graham Center for people to sit under, socially distanced, while they relaxed. Jazzy tunes filled the background, improvised live by student guitarist, bassist and percusionist Jesus Gallimore from the School of Music.
“I missed playing in public because of the whole pandemic,” says Gallimore, a first-year master’s student in jazz performance.
While attendees checked in, the Division of HR provided cupcakes and took down names for door prizes. FIU also held a picnic on the lawns at BBC. There were more than 200 registered attendees between the two events.
“Many of us haven’t seen each other in such a long time other than on Zoom,” says Janet Branch, associate director of Facility Operations for the Wellness and Recreation Center. “So I think it’s important just to gather the community.”
Some attendees said they could see themselves at more events like this.
“I think it’s super important to be outdoors, especially now that we’re back and we are in our offices a lot of the time,” says Crystal Fernandez, an office assistant in the Office of Career and Talent Development. “It’s good to get fresh air and sunlight. It’s just nice to see different colors. It’s super important for your mood, to go outside.”