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Reflections on the Virtual Reciprocity Ring Experience

“One of the most memorable pieces of feedback I've received in a performance review is that I should ask for help more often, so the Reciprocity Rings struck a chord with me. The breadth of requests, from requesting an intro to Bill Clinton to asking someone to make them a pizza, highlighted how no request is too big or too small to make. No matter the request, asking someone for help requires both humility in admitting you need support, and also confidence in believing your request is worth someone's time. One classmate made a particularly thoughtful request that will stick with me: to be pushed out of his comfort zone. After all, isn't that why many of us are here?” - Mike Kelly (MBA ’22)  “I was amazed to see both the variety of requests that people presented and the level of vulnerability they were comfortable with sharing and accommodating. We had requests ranging from requesting a hand to help move luggage, to help build a website and to help with pointers for public speaking. The 2022 edition of reciprocity rings being online, I think, facilitated, even more, the purpose this exercise sets out to achieve. Zoom gives you a sense of privacy–a feeling that the spotlight is not consistently on you. That, ironically, makes the process of asking for help from a bunch of people you have only known a day, slightly less intimidating. This eventually allowed people to open up more and the requests that flowed in this year were more intimate than in a “normal” year.” - Nishkam Prabodh (MBA ’22) The event however did have its share of glitches. The website experienced an overload issue, which in turn, caused a crash. However, the setback was only temporary as Ring Captains adapted quickly and continued with the exercise. By the end of the session, the incoming RC students had a clear takeaway: do not hesitate to ask for help! In addition to the Reciprocity Ring, RC START week also featured other virtual events that were put together by the HBS Student Association (SA) to facilitate community building. “One of the major challenges of planning, at least during the first half of the summer, was coming up with two versions of the entire event–virtual and in-person,” Lori Ossip (MBA ’21, SA Chief Admissions Ambassador) explained. “With the state of the world in flux, we weren’t sure what would and would not be possible, but we wanted to remain flexible in the event that we could hold some events in-person. One of our key goals was to ensure that our core events were not exclusionary to students and partners abroad or in quarantine.” “To that end, all of the events during START week were virtual, and the Boston 101 in-person activities are only slated to begin on the second weekend of the semester. There are also virtual options available for many of those events. We aimed to hold events that were informative and would help form strong section and community bonds, even when delivered through a digital medium. To that end, we paired up a group of 20-30 RCs with an EC ambassador that served as their main contact person for the week and could help answer any questions. We were incredibly grateful for the hard work and dedication of the EC ambassadors!” The Student Association also plans to facilitate some small-group in-person and virtual activities. “We thought it was important to provide people with a responsible, physically distanced way to bond outside of class,” Ossip noted. Examples of these activities include small-group hikes, picnics, bike rides and kayaking. 
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