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'Getting ISLI Moving' turns daily commute into a global journey

Walking in trainers

Tracy McAuley, Executive Support Finance Administrator at the International Study & Language Institute (ISLI) explains how she came up with Let's get ISLI moving, an innovative take on the daily commute that gets colleagues travelling around the world.

When we went into the first lockdown in March, a sudden chaos descended on us all as we frantically moved courses online, changed processes to reflect the change in student learning, on top of home-schooling for a lot of colleagues - it felt like March to July went by in a flash. As we continued through the summer - which for ISLI is our busiest time for welcoming students from all over the world - there became a sense of colleagues becoming affected by the ever-increasing lockdown, which was also reflected in meetings with other colleagues around the University.

In May 2019 I did my first ever Park Run with a small group of friends (for those of you that do not know, this is a weekly 5km run at numerous local parks. Throughout the first lockdown, my group continued to run on a Saturday morning (socially distanced), which really helped my overall wellbeing. It inspired me to also take up cycling and swimming, and I completed my first triathlon in September 2020. 

In ISLI we have all stayed connected with planned weekly All staff meetings and have also held regular virtual social events such as quizzes, cocktail-making sessions and cookery sessions. However, as we went into the second lockdown in November it felt like team morale suddenly deflated all over again. It made me wonder if there was anything else we could do to keep spirits up - something that would involve camaraderie and movement that would create a sense of ‘being in this together'. And so I came up with the ‘Let's get ISLI moving campaign'.

The general idea is that regardless of where we are working, we continue to have a ‘commute' to work, whether that is a walk around your local area, garden or even up and down stairs. In doing that, we collectively walk/run/cycle around the globe with stop off points at partner universities.  Colleagues can do as much or as little as they want, so there is no pressure to be covering lots of miles each week.

We ‘left' Whiteknights campus on 9 November 2020 and have since then travelled over 5,600 miles to the NUIST Reading Academy in Nanjing, China, and are currently around 290 miles towards the University of Reading Malaysia campus.

Colleagues submit weekly mileage to me which I map, and our progress has become somewhat of a highlight in our weekly meeting. It has been really well received with most colleagues getting involved every week, and as we find ourselves in lockdown number 3, I hope that continuing on our journey will further help our collective wellbeing while keeping our ISLI community spirit going.

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