By: Brianna Condilenios, SFU Student
Oh, how I missed you SFU! But thanks to this augmented reality street festival, which partnered with a number of student service groups like Ancillary Services and the SFSS, I felt right back at home. My virtual reality journey began in the academic quadrangle where I chose my avatar and began checking out other locations on campus. One of the first adventures I embarked on was a search for raccoons hidden throughout the event space. I had expected these creatures to have multiplied tenfold with the lack of humans on campus to scare them, but I only spotted two. They are sneaky after all.
Next, I visited some pop-up booths with details on various organizations at SFU. Each had a unique avatar, cartoon presentation, table display, and bowl of candy. A few QR codes later, I had learned about programs like SFU Fair Trade and SFU ChildCare Society, which offer valuable resources and education to the SFU community. These little booths were (virtually) sitting on my desk at home, and as I moved my mobile phone, I came closer to each one. Having this mobile component made my experience feel more personal as opposed to just watching a video posted to a website.
In another location, there was an SFSS lounge set up where board members were present through their avatars and microphones. They answered any questions that people had about the SFSS and discussed what being a board member entails. While I did not have many questions to ask, it was a great opportunity to learn more about our student government.
Another great feature was the entertainment. First, I got to hear Shina Likasa’s majestic cover of Taylor Swift’s “Lover.” This is one of my favourite Taylor Swift songs and I thought Shina’s beautiful cover really captured the feeling of overflowing love. After her performance, University Highlands Elementary students displayed pictures of their rainbow art, which symbolized connection, optimism, and hope.
Last, but certainly not least, was a stunning virtual art gallery provided by the SFU Childcare Society. Creative pieces centering on nature, relationships, and colour, made by children in the program, filled my screen. The virtual gallery reminded me how important it is to appreciate the work of others in these trying times. Not only does it help the creator feel appreciated and thus inspired to make more art, but it is a beautiful, happy experience for the viewer.
SFU StreetFest offered a wonderful space for community engagement, and being in a familiar campus space (albeit in augmented reality) gave me a sense of belongingness again. Visit the SFU StreetFest website to experience all these activities for yourself.