Musical touches among changes to first day of summer school

Students line up for identification cards at the University of Otago's  summer school. Photo by...
Students line up for identification cards at the University of Otago's summer school. Photo by Craig Baxter.

Some lively changes were apparent on the first day of Otago University's annual summer school, even before school director Dr Elaine Webster started strumming the ukulele.

Early at several previous schools, snacks had been served for participating students at the university commerce building atrium, followed by an orientation briefing for new students, in a nearby seminar room.

Yesterday, as the university's 13th summer school began, the noon snacks were switched to a more central venue, the Link, a furnished space beside the central library.

And the previous verbal orientation briefing was also replaced by information offered via the university internet site and social media, with printed information also available at the school office.

And, in another new touch, the arrival of the food was accompanied by stirring drumming by members of O-Taiko, a group which performs Japanese Taiko drumming, and is based in the Otago music department.

O-Taiko leader Sabrina Goh felt ''very honoured'' to take part in one of the group's most high-profile performances.

Another musical group, of university ukulele players, then entertained, with group member Dr Webster among them. Pacific Island musicians also later performed.

Dr Webster said the school's first day was a busy time, but playing the ukulele was ''totally fun'' and a great stress reducer.

''It's just impossible to feel stressed and play the ukulele.''

Changes at the school were not being made ''in a big way'', but communication with students was being done in a way they felt most comfortable about, she said.

Many students lined up for school identification cards yesterday, but queues appeared reasonably fast moving.

Otago University Students Association officials said it was ''great'' to see students back on campus, and there had been no complaints about the length of queues. Through the summer school, students can gain credit for courses with six weeks of study, instead of about 13 weeks usually required to complete equivalent papers during the main university study year.

The latest school is offering 76 papers, up from 74 last year, and includes 12 papers being taught at the school for the first time.

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