For the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, 22 groups of more than 400 new students closed out Duke Kunshan University’s Orientation Week with an in-person rendition of the University’s annual talent show.
The Class of 2027 is DKU’s “first wholly in-person class since 2019,” according to Dean of Student Affairs Jill Creighton. For students performing onstage, the feelings they experienced and the memories they made were unforgettable.
“Being able to perform it live in front of everyone, it was really fun,” DKU first-year Marcus Santoro said. “Even now, I’m still thinking about it, thinking about the moves and all the dances, wishing I could redo it over again.”
“I already see more integration than what we [sophomores] had previously,” added DKU sophomore Tekla Takás, whose cohort had been separated between online classes and studying in Barcelona.
DKU’s O-Week consisted of a move-in day, followed by a week of informational, educational and cultural sessions and ending with the talent show. Takács described the event as a way for students to “loosen up and have fun” before classes begin.
Prior to DKU’s move-in day on Aug. 13, students were assigned to orientation groups to discuss, practice and rehearse their performances before the talent show on Aug. 18. Much of the actual planning and rehearsals did not occur until students arrived at campus and had the chance to meet in person.
“Before we came to school, I wasn’t really sure what was going on,” Santoro said. “And then we actually came to school, organized the practices, and from there, we persevered to make everything work out.”
Throughout O-Week, groups spent multiple hours in and out of practices outside of their info sessions in preparation for the talent show. Santoro’s group put on a performance of La La Land’s “Another Day of Sun,” which swept the student-voted awards of Most Creative Act, Best Performance and Best Costume.
DKU students and faculty gathered in Phase 2’s two-story theater, one of the newest facilities to open during the summer, to watch a variety of performances, including a vibrant performance of La La Land’s “Another Day of Sun,” a mysterious detective skit and an alluring love story told through shadows.
Acts ranged from impersonations to musical performances, drawing laughter from the crowds and encouraging students to wave their phone flashlights in the air. Audience members were allowed the chance to vote for their favorite groups during the show’s live voting session.
As the school year begins, Takács remains hopeful about the start of new relationships formed between Chinese and international students.
“[Orientation Week] provides them with an opportunity from day one to be in an international community,” Takács said.
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