ASUC office hosts virtual ‘Llamapalooza’ amid pandemic

Photo of Minecraft Llamapalooza
Nick Pickett/Courtesy
Students were given the opportunity to participate in activities in the Blockeley Minecraft server, including a scavenger hunt in the virtual replica of campus with pixelated llamas.

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In an effort to uphold a campus tradition during the COVID-19 pandemic, the ASUC Office of the Academic Affairs Vice President, or AAVP, hosted the “Llamapalooza” event in a virtual format Wednesday.

James Weichert, one of the AAVP chiefs of staff, helped plan the event and said the office had been brainstorming ideas to host Llamapalooza virtually because it was not able to host the event last spring amid the pandemic.

“It’s not as memorable as seeing them in person, but I still love them anyway,” said campus freshman Monica Antonio. “The llamas are hilarious and I can’t wait to see them in person one day.”

The AAVP office usually partners with Llamas of Circle Home, a care facility in Sonora, which brings llamas to campus during the last week of instruction in an effort to help students de-stress, according to Weichert.

This year, the AAVP office hosted the event in two parts. The first 30 minutes was a livestream of the llamas, along with a Q&A session with co-owner George Caldwell over Zoom.

Campus junior Nerina Campos said she also enjoyed the event, as it helped her de-stress by distracting her from “everything chaotic” happening.

The second part of Llamapalooza involved a collaboration between the AAVP office and Blockeley, a Minecraft server-building team, to imitate an on-campus experience. Students were given the opportunity to participate in activities in the Minecraft server, including a scavenger hunt in the virtual replica of campus with pixelated llamas.

Campus alumnus Nick Pickett worked with the president and events chair of the Blockeley team to plan the event. He also created the scavenger hunt.

“This is kind of what Blockeley was made for,” Pickett said. “It was not necessarily a replacement for the actual campus life, but it is a place where we can kind of explore a place where we can at least fill the void that’s left in student lives through events that we’re hosting.”

The virtual campus itself was even decorated according to a llama theme, Pickett added. Decorations included a large llama head built on the model of Doe Library.

Pickett said students had to use their llamas to carry items they picked up during the scavenger hunt, giving them a “mild” bonding experience with the animal. He added that he also created a route that gave students the opportunity to explore the replica of campus.

“We’re all really happy that we’re able to kind of fulfill at least some part of the campus life,” Pickett said. “Especially for freshmen who have never been able to experience it, and be able to at least remind people of what they’re going to be able to come back to whenever things go back to normal.”

Contact Natalie Lu at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @natalie_c_lu.