Last October, we received an email from the Rector’s Office of the University of Lisbon proposing a new (virtual) model of education fairs and exhibitions. It was evident that the fairs would not be held in the usual way. Like other day-to-day changes, this was yet another one that the pandemic came to affect. Representing the Faculty of Medicine in these initiatives requires time, dedication and logistics. We were used to having to prepare all the steps and follow all the items on the to-do list: creating synergies with other services, such as the Academic Unit, lecturers and students (through the always available Student Association-AEFML).
By now, compared to previous years, two members of our team would be in Porto, at Exponor, trying to answer all the questions posed by high school students and their parents. The previous days would have been stressful, preparing materials, organizing logistical issues, buying train tickets, and engaging in endless conversations with students – to whom we always ask for assistance.
A little over a year ago, at the Discover ULisboa Fair, we had 3 activities that were much appreciated: the Talk by Professor Óscar Dias, a real trip to the auditory system; the nutrition workshop, where we explained myths about nutrition and finally, the suture workshop, given by Dr Ana Cristina Lavado, who filled up the presentation room with a huge number of enthusiasts wishing to hold, for the first time, a scalpel.
The model had been found, there was no margin for error. We had found the perfect formula: bring together our students, lecturers and resources and adding a (great) pinch of interaction and news. Still, in March last year, everything changed and the reason is too well known to us.
This year, we are Online. Through the University of Lisbon, we partner with Inspire Future, a non-profit youth association that conducts initiatives in the area of education, working primarily with secondary schools and higher education. Despite the lack of human contact, proximity, and smiles eager to know the future, we are present at Projeto País, more specifically at Feira Centro, which consists of an online platform that allows high school students, from all over the country, without leaving home, to know all the details of the university they intend to apply to.
Virtual area - Feira Centro
Virtual space - University of Lisbon Pavilion
In an environment very similar to the ecosystem of the Sims game, potential candidates can browse a virtual space, visit the stands of the various higher education institutions (from north to south) and participate in the programmed activities. Each institution, within its online stand, provides videos, course brochures and all types of content that allows students to make an informed decision. In addition, there is the chat and video conferencing functionality, through which they can always ask questions and schedule zoom calls for more personalized answers.
Some professors, as is the case of Professor Maria José Diógenes, and colleagues, such as Paula Moreira from the Management Board and Catarina Monteiro from Design, are also involved in this project. Medical students also participated, and we thank them for their availability to support this initiative. All together, we try to overcome the difficulties of showing what our school has to offer: training and people.