Reflections on a Virtual 'Aha Pae'āina
As we approach the 'Aha Pae'āina, let us think through what our experience of the virtual format will be like. While the Conference is utilizing Zoom, we will mostly be using their webinar platform. This entails the loss of things we have grown accustomed to with the Zoom meeting platform. While in Zoom meetings you can see all the other participants on your screen (provided they turned on their camera), in the Zoom webinar you will see only those who are facilitating the discussion you are joining. All others attending, including yourself, will not be seen. Also, in the Zoom webinar you are automatically muted and cannot unmute yourself; that will need to be done by one of the technical administrators. Finally, there is a Q&A function which can be utilized for raising questions and sharing insights and those things you may wish to state.
Since there will be 140 delegates "attending" the ‘Aha Pae‘āina, it was felt that the meeting platform was unwieldy. The concerns ranged from the need to remind people to mute and un-mute, the imbalance in home internet bandwidth that may cause a video participant to freeze, voices talking over one another, and keeping eyes on 140 small screens to see who is raising a hand or otherwise seeking to signal the facilitator. While the webinar platform will feel strange and even antiseptic, it proved the better format for addressing the issues of concern.
However, we are aware that much of the joy of the ‘Aha Pae‘āina is the relational connection it provides. Rare is the opportunity for us to meet face to face while on our separate islands and so the ‘Aha Pae‘āina provides for that moment of renewing friendship and allowing for new acquaintances to be made. This is the piece we will miss the most and grieve the most for not having. We have tried to think of ways to include this missing piece, although we acknowledge that there is no easy and fully satisfying solution. However, we have added some time following the Opening Worship service to fellowship with one another virtually on Sunday, October 4, from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. A Zoom (meeting format) link will be posted on October 4 on the Conference website.
David K. Popham, Conference Minister