The arts at Duke during Covid have been a beautiful mess. As a student who came to Duke for the arts, involved in Project Arts, Hoof ’n’ Horn, and a Capella, I prepared for the worst entering the school year, knowing that all of my activities and extracurriculars were either to be eliminated or moved to a virtual space. And in some ways, it was the worst. A virtual Project Arts, Duke’s arts-based pre-orientation program for incoming first-year students, introduced me to both the new life on Zoom and to Zoom fatigue. The program went well given the circumstances but, for the staffers and the “crewlings” alike, required a sort of on-the-job recontextualizing of what the coming year would look like. Virtual arts, we found out, is a whole new ball game.
Entering the school year, I understood that the virtual problem was going to remain throughout both semesters and maybe even longer. How were the arts going to survive? If they were going to survive, they had to move virtual in new and creative ways. For a Capella, we ran rehearsal through Zoom and manufactured “concerts” by compiling videos of all of the singers singing individually, in their own spaces. Sure, Zoom rehearsal sucks — there’s no way around it. But it is better than no rehearsal. Sure, it was sad to not perform together — but the videos we made this year will live on in iconic remembrance.
In Hoof ’n’ Horn, I served as Assistant Director for A Chorus Line. At first, many on the production team assumed that we were not going to go through with the show virtually, but everyone involved believed in the collective vision. Throughout the fall semester, we produced a 90-minute-long compilation and showcase of songs, scenes, and dances performed by Duke students. It wasn’t like a normal Hoof ’n’ Horn show, but this was not a normal year. We made the best of our situation and I am so proud of what we were able to accomplish. This semester, Hoof ’n’ Horn completed a similar project with Dreamgirls.
Though it was not easy at first, we grew to understand it and to learn how to enjoy it. Throughout the two semesters, little by little, we found ways to express ourselves in a safe manner. After hours upon hours on Zoom every day, I found such a need for artistic expression — even if that is on Zoom, too. But now, things are only looking up. My a Capella group rehearses on campus once a week. Project Arts staff can train together in person. When thinking about our shows and performances next semester, we’re just beginning to think of what we missed out on and what we might be able to get back. But, if we are forced back to Zoom — we know how to handle it.
Favorite memory at Duke (pre-Covid, and/or now)?
I love this question because it allows me to remember how many great memories I have at Duke, even with COVID-19. Probably when I went to the Kingdom Choir’s concert at Duke Chapel. The Choir was impressive, and the setting was perfect. Also, any basketball game-related memory is a great one.
Why did you join DSAB?
I will be graduating in a few months, but I can affirm that Duke has been, from the start, a life-changing experience. I was very impressed with the campus, my brilliant classmates, and the faculty's human and professional quality. I decided to join DSAB because it was a space where I could meet more Duke students, get the opportunity to learn from them and get more involved in the university's dynamic.
What groups are you involved in at Duke?
In my first semester, I was a project manager at Duke Interdisciplinary Social Innovators. My team and I created a school-kit on restorative justice to be implemented in North Carolina schools. Since last year, I have also collaborated with SALUD (Scholar Academy for Latinxs United for Diversity). The project's vision is to empower Durham Latinx youth for a progressive change, promoting STEM professions among them. I am also Sanford School of Public Policy’s representative at the University Judicial Board.
Any advice for undergrad students (professionally, personally, etc.)?
Maybe two: First, take your time to enjoy and appreciate your experience at Duke as much as you can. Sometimes, we forget to realize that studying at Duke is a fantastic opportunity because we are too embedded in the workload or thinking about the future. I know COVID-19 has made enjoyment more difficult, but we are still blessed to have this education and institutional support. Second, do not wholly rely on your plans. Be open to change as much as you can. I am back to graduate school many years after finishing my LLM. At this point in my career, I did not expect to be studying again. But this time, I am learning something different, and I love it.
What drew you to Duke? How did your past experiences factor in?
I am a Human Rights lawyer, and I have worked for my country's government for quite some time. I became incredibly passionate about promoting non-discriminatory policies in Peru, and I felt at some point that my legal skills could be complemented with some policy background. I chose Sanford because it is one of the best policy schools, and its Masters of International Development Policy is oriented to mid-career professionals who want to create social change. It was a perfect fit.
I can speak Spanish, English and French.
Name: Bates Crawford
Class Year: 2022
Hometown: New York City
When did you join DSAB?
My first year of DSAB was my sophomore year.
What groups are you involved in at Duke?
I am Co-president of Gente Aprendiendo para Nuevas Oportunidades (GANO) and author of The Chronicle column “A Devil’s Bookshelf.”
Favorite memory at Duke?
One favorite memory (too many to have a definitive favorite!) is the bench burning last spring after the Duke/UNC game. I know, a basketball memory. You guessed it. Definitely a classic answer, but the special feeling we all shared on campus that night, energized by our teamwork, was the perfect example of our undeniable school spirit.
What is your DSAB team up to?
My DSAB team is brainstorming/planning a few different initiatives related to Young Alumni Engagement. A few of these ideas in the works are a version of Ask a Blue Devil that filters to recent graduates for responses, and a post-event, one-on-one conversation program that would allow for a current student and an alum to get together to discuss a lecture they both attended, which would be a natural conversation starter!
Thoughts on online classes/interviews/clubs? Any advice for navigating that?
I feel like I am still learning alongside everyone when it comes to this online college experience, but something I prioritize is being intentionally agile and communicative. As we work through Zoom, there may be technical difficulties, but the best we can do is be ready to pivot and help each other out. The tutoring organization I am a part of, GANO, went completely virtual this past summer and it has been a rewarding experience in a hectic time for tutors and tutees alike. So, I hope we don’t see the virtual world for just its faults! It is a ‘get what you give’ process.
What would be helpful for you to learn from a DSAB newsletter?
In our DSAB meetings, I am always fascinated when people share their mentorship experiences that followed an unexpected or brief connection with someone. As college students, mentors are crucial and can provide us with indispensable insight and motivation beyond our four years on campus, so it would be helpful to hear more of these stories.
Any alumni programs that you have seen and learned from?
A very special community at Duke is the Duke Entertainment, Media & Arts Network (DEMAN). I would love to continue to learn more about the fantastic alumni in these fields and their various passions/career paths, especially other women in the industry! Attending DEMAN events has been a real highlight throughout my Duke experience.