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Moderator Chronicles: Mei in Manila

While there have been numerous positive outcomes that has risen from working from home, working remotely has put everyone at a disadvantage of creating a personal working relationship with the people you communicate closely with. The moderation team of Zookal is a newly formed team, short of a year old. When I joined, it was just Mei and myself, then we eventually grew the team to include 4 more moderators. Ours was a relationship formed by the 20,000 plus solutions sent in by tutors in October to December of 2021. And while we have not yet met each other at that time, the team worked well like we knew each other for a while.

Fast forward to the early part of the year when the world started to ease restrictions for tourists due to the pandemic. Mei has always casually mentioned visiting the Philippines to meet the team. Little did we know that it would become a reality when she flew in May from her holiday in Singapore. What was supposed to be a week-long meet was shortened to 4 days as she has missed her flight on the 26th. Our initial meeting at the Cooee could be described as warm. Having worked closely with her for almost a year, I was expecting a different person. She is one of the taller Chinese persons I’ve met – and I’ve worked with plenty. But appearances aside, it was as if we’ve known each other for a long time. The dynamics was there, the close work relationship was there; the only difference was that all I needed to do was call out for her when I needed something,. We also met up with Lara and her team. It was nice putting a face to the names we only usually see on Slack. And it was better knowing the CS team at a deeper level aside from tutor emails and tech problems.

The whole team finally got to meet on the 30th of May. And if I were to describe that day, it would be “reawakening”. We always knew that the group worked well, despite different backgrounds. But having a personality identified for each member was a new experience for everyone. Mei was gracious to share rooms with the girls on the team.

We talked about introducing her to part of the Philppine culture – food. The team brought her to fast food chains that were homegrown Filipino. She mentioned eating halo-halo - per layer - on a solo trip to MOA. Since there were no proper halo-halo places in the vicinity, Chowking to the rescue. She enjoyed Jollibbee too, and the sisig that we had with the CS girls and Ms Joyce and Cha. But what was most memorable was finally working together in person - holding meetings together, getting each other’s opinions on work related matters, sharing suggestions that could improve the platform. While we are able to do this online, having to do it face-to-face gives you a different kind of high. It makes you more connected knowing that you’re beside each other in a room, in the same building. And we have so many people to thank for this.

To Kris and Pia, who initiated this trip and planned it when Mei mentioned she was coming over, thank you for the warm, warm welcome you have shown us. To Ms Joyce, Marie, Nats and the rest of the HR team, from the planning to logistics to getting everyone to Makati and back safely, thank you for your kindness and thoroughness. To Ms Cha, Ms JP, Sir Chris, Kenneth, thank you for making sure we had what we needed while in the office. To the team, thanks for coming down. You know we always have your backs. And to Mei, never did we imagine a meeting like this. Thank you for pushing through with the trip despite a couple of hesitations along the way.

Short as it was, it has made each of us know our worth for the team better. Thank you Cooee for this.

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