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Bruin Origami For All folds paper into hope in online Zoom sessions

First-year microbiology, immunology & molecular genetics student Chris Tai co-founded the Bruin Origami For All club, which meets on Zoom. (Amy Dixon/Daily Bruin senior staff)

By Alexsandra Coltun Schneider

April 21, 2020 5:30 p.m.

Origami is a physical art form – figures are created out of folded and creased paper.

 

But in response to COVID-19, Bruin Origami For All has turned to a digital platform to support their physical art.

The club was founded this year when co-president Chris Tai and two of his friends couldn’t find an active origami club at UCLA, said the first-year microbiology, immunology & molecular genetics student. As an underclassman, Tai said he started the club in part because he wanted to watch himself grow alongside the club and learn more about the club formation process. Members of the club meet other people over the video conference platform Zoom, Tai said, while folding origami and chatting about the craft.

“(We) originally planned for meetings to start during spring quarter in-person. We already reserved the rooms and everything,” Tai said. “But since there (are) some extenuating circumstances, it’s not really possible.”

[Related: New club would allow students to experiment with metal and glass creations]

So far, members of Bruin Origami for All have worked on models such as the origami crane and rocket. The club is starting off with simpler models to ensure members of the club – regardless of their skill level – can follow along the instruction, Tai said.

The art of origami involves folding pieces of paper to create specific shapes, ranging from real life to abstract, said Mark Diamond, co-president of the club. The first-year mechanical engineering student said while origami is traditionally a solitary experience, he enjoys leading origami lessons over Zoom and sharing knowledge of the craft with others through conversations about the art form. Crafting origami birds ranges per difficulty level, Diamond said, the easiest being a swan and crane. The crane is a quintessential origami piece, he said, and a good model for beginners to learn the craft due to its low complexity.

“The crane is (a) perfect, very symmetrical model,” Diamond said. “They’re very big folds that are not very precise … (there’s) more leniency to make mistakes or imprecisions.”

Utilizing Zoom’s “breakout rooms” feature, the club plans on hosting separate guided instructions over the platform tailored to beginners and more advanced learners of origami. Bruin Origami for All tries to engage club members to build a community with each other, said Benny Lau, a second-year biology student. Serving as the club’s vice president, Lau said he wants to focus on good camera lighting, since it can be difficult to see origami paper on video.

“I think we’re trying to do as best as we can to simulate being like a club meeting,” Lau said. “We’re trying to get all the members to be talking to each other, to ask questions and just get to know each other.”

[Related: English Fiat Lux classes center around understanding, studying COVID-19’s impacts]

Engaging with others during nationwide lockdown orders is difficult, said Elaine Chao, a first-year chemistry student. Despite the occasional challenges with video calls, Chao said she appreciated the efficiency of the camera set up – one screen showing a recording of an instructional origami video and the other recording the instructor. The club provides a welcoming environment, Chao said, since club members range from beginner to advanced origami skill levels.

“I feel like I have a lot more free time now,” Chao said. “It (has) been a lot of fun to go pick up another hobby.”

The club plans on folding a thousand cranes as a community service project, Chao said. Donating the cranes symbolizes hope – one Japanese legend claims that folding a thousand cranes will grant a wish to a person, she said. Making origami as a gift to a person also represents an investment in time, Tai said, because every piece requires thought and energy.

When Bruin Origami For All resumes in-person meetings, Tai said the club hopes to engage in community service projects with local organizations, such as UCLA Residential Life. Bruin Origami For All wants to explore opportunities for campus beautification projects, and even donating origami creations to UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital.

“I think one of the main vision points of BOFA is that we want to serve our community through the gift of origami,” Tai said. “We don’t just want to fold origami for ourselves … or have these origami trophies, but it’s more to bless and to serve our community.”

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Alexsandra Coltun Schneider
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