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Fran Wright and Luke Pilkinton-Ching image

Photographer Luke Pilkinton-Ching and Marketing Adviser Fran Wright are the brains behind ME-thsis.

Staff and students on the Wellington campus have been presenting a fun series of three-minute lunch time talks this year on their interests outside work.

The ME-thsis presentations have included talks on building a tiny house, underwater photography, acting and directing in theatrical performances, and life in Ethiopia.

The concept was developed by Campus Photographer Luke Pilkinton-Ching and Marketing Adviser Fran Wright.

Fran says the idea arose during a casual chat they had about the interesting things staff and students were involved in outside work.

“We had just discovered that our postgraduate coordinator of student experience was directing and starring in a production of Jesus Christ Superstar. We got into a ‘who would have known’ conversation and thought it would be fun to get staff together to find out more about their hidden talents. The next day, Luke said, ‘how about we call it the three-minute ME-thsis?’”

Matt Jenkins tiny house

Matt Jenkins and his tiny house

Luke says he was drawn to the idea as a way of building stronger relationships among staff and students.

“Over the past few years I’ve become aware of the lack of connection between people on the Wellington campus, both staff and students, not only because of COVID, but also because of the closure of our Academic Block in Newtown and the fact that staff and students are now split across three locations as well as working from home.

“These sessions seemed a great way of building connection and hearing from our amazing people at the same time – a practical way of building reconnection between people.

“I’m also fascinated to hear about the cool stuff that my colleagues are doing in their lives outside work. I can’t deny I’m in it for selfish reasons too – I love a good story and learning new stuff!”

There have been four presentations this year: Dr Matt Jenkins, a Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Psychological Medicine, spoke about the trials, tribulations and triumphs of building a tiny house; Trevor Williams, Postgraduate Coordinator of Student Experience, talked about directing and performing in Jesus Christ Superstar; Dr Judy Ormandy, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Women’s Health spoke on the topic of ‘Waterlogged: an obsessive – compulsive scuba diver’s descent into underwater photography’ and Solomon Beka, an international PhD student in the Occupational and Aviation Medicine Unit gave a slide show and presentation on ‘What makes Ethiopia unique from other African countries’.

Solomon Beka image

Solomon Beka talking about Ethiopia

Fran says all the talks have been fantastic.

“We’ve had a great turnout of people from across the Brandon Street office and we hope that when all staff are back in Newtown next year we can continue the momentum it has generated.

“It’s been so good to see the mix of people who come along. They all walk out saying, ‘that was so cool’.”

Fran says the idea is to keep the presentations short and simple so they are not too onerous for the presenter.

“But we may have stretched the three-minute concept a little, as there are always lots of questions!”

Kōrero by Cheryl Norrie, Communications Adviser on the Wellington campus.

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