Here are some of the amazing things that happened on Zoom this year

This year may not have turned out the way any of us had anticipated because of the coronavirus pandemic. But even though trips were canceled, events were postponed and many of us spent our days inside our homes, memories were still made — just through computer screens and cellphones.

And while Zoom fatigue is a real thing, many say they actually felt closer to people than they ever had before.

So even though we may have lost a lot this year, here are some of the amazing things that actually did happen.

We welcomed new life

In March, Desmond Wiggan Jr. and his wife, Fanecia had planned a gender reveal with their family in Charlotte, North Carolina. But those plans changed two weeks prior to the event when they saw that coronavirus cases were rising and restrictions were being tightened.

“It’s the first baby on both sides in a long time so we wanted to have a big reveal with all our families from all over the country here,” Wiggan told CNN. “Even though we weren’t physically there, you could still feel the love of everyone virtually.”

With every viewing of the video, a different family member’s reaction is revealed, making it a memory Wiggan and his family will cherish forever.

Couples got married and engaged

Aysia Francis got the shock of a lifetime in May when her fiance, Corbin Jackson, orchestrated a surprise living room proposal in Washington, DC., she told CNN.

“I think sometimes people think that things have to be really over the top to be super meaningful or to show your love for someone,” she said. “This was something that was so simple that meant so much to me.”

Jackson told Francis the original proposal was meant to happen in New York City, a place she loves. But when coronavirus cases began rising, Jackson pulled the plug and instead worked within his surroundings to propose, arranging for family and friends to watch from Zoom on the couple’s living room TV.

And though it wasn’t the proposal she may have imagined, Francis said when she was in the moment, she realized just how perfect it was, regardless of where they were.

Francis and Jackson plan to wed in Jamaica next December.

Nikki Bilderback cried tears of joy from her home in Los Angeles, California, watching two friends she loves dearly tie the knot in July. The best part? She had no idea it was happening until she logged onto a Zoom call that she had thought was a dinner party.

Bilderback told CNN she was asked to dress in her Sunday best and have dinner ready at the time given.

“Much to my surprise they (the couple) revealed that we had all been invited to their wedding and it was happening after we were done eating dinner,” she said. “I was so surprised. I was so deeply touched and honored to have been invited to experience their special day, even if virtually.”

Regardless of the pandemic, Bilderback said it was a unique and innovative way to include loved ones on such a special day.

Students applauded their educators

Imagine giving a presentation to an empty room. Not being able to feed off the energy or facial expressions of those listening, which makes it tricky to understand if your audience is retaining the information.

For many students and teachers, this has been their reality during online school this year. So students from Chapman University in California wanted to do something special on the last day of class.

They started the lesson with their cameras off. When their professor, Dr. Jim Brown, questioned them about it, a student prompted the rest to turn their cameras on in unison, revealing that each student was holding a paper sign saying things like, “Thank you for making a difference every day.”

Dr. Brown, who teaches in the Department of Peace Studies, was so moved that he started to tear up on camera.

“Whether we meet in person, as in a regular non-Covid semester or on-line, we go through this crucible together and well, it can be pretty emotional,” he said, according to university communications. “And part of that spilled out on Wednesday in our final class session.”

Lauren Herrle was one of those students and she shared the reveal on TikTok.

“We all have a special place for him, like he’s easily my favorite teacher,” she said. “He just comes to class with such good energy and he is always singing and humming and talking to us throughout class … and making sure everyone is all right.”

The holidays were celebrated

Fiza Pirani’s family usually gets together for Thanksgiving but this year chose to hang out on Zoom.

“Here is a short clip of my Fua Dada singing a family favorite (Jaan-e Bahar Husn Tera Bemisal Hai) on our family Thanksgiving Zoom call,” she wrote on Twitter. “I miss hugging these people.”

One of the cornerstones of Hannukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, is lighting the menorah every night for eight nights. Typically family and friends gather each night to eat and socialize but with rising coronavirus cases, many opted for smaller or virtual celebrations of Hannukah, which began on Dec. 10.

Jewish Chaplain Marc Bragin from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, is one of those leading the virtual celebrations. Kenyon’s students attended class both in-person and remote this semester, but after Thanksgiving, all students completed classes and exams online.

Each night, Bragin has been lighting a candle on the menorah from Rothenberg Hillel House on campus, which provides opportunities for students and the Jewish community around campus to explore Judaism.

Zoom calls have been a great option for seeing our loved ones and celebrating some life’s biggest moments this year, and the CDC is still recommending continued mask use, physical distancing, avoiding crowds, washing hands frequently and taking a Covid-19 vaccine in order to stop the spread of coronavirus.

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