How a Mandarin branch’s Zoom ‘karaoke night’ delivered fun, unity

Following Saturday’s Zoom karaoke activity of the Kendall Square Mandarin-language Branch, President Jerry Hsieh has a heightened appreciation for the branch members’ talents.

“We definitely have some crooners,” he said, laughing.

The Kendall Square Branch is part of the Cambridge Massachusetts Stake. And like Latter-day Saint congregations across the world, COVID-19 has placed a hold on the branch’s traditional opportunities to physically be together.

But technology such as Zoom allows for virtual gatherings — including virtual fun.

So on the eve of their March 29, online Sabbath-day fast and testimony meeting, more than 20 Kendall Square Branch households enjoyed an evening of Saturday night karaoke.

Online "Karaoke night" for the Kendall Square Mandarin-language Branch in March 28, 2020, included traditional Chinese folks songs and contemporary pop selections.
Online “Karaoke night” for the Kendall Square Mandarin-language Branch in March 28, 2020, included traditional Chinese folks songs and contemporary pop selections. Credit: Screen capture image courtesy of Jerry Hsieh

“I think everyone just wanted to have an opportunity to get together and do something light-hearted,” said President Hsieh.

Saturday’s karaoke selection ranged from Chinese folk songs to contemporary pop tunes. One woman sang “Amazing Grace” — and the branch activity concluded with everyone singing a Primary hymn: “I Am A Child of God.”

Branch karaoke night “was a great way to get connected with brothers and sisters from the branch whom we haven’t seen in more than two weeks,” said Jiani (Jenny) Cheng. “It was nice to hear their voices and see their faces — and it was extremely comforting to hear people make jokes and share random thoughts about their lives through their microphones.”

Singing “I Am A Child of God” together, she added, wrapped-up the evening on an uplifting spiritual high note.

“Activities like these are very helpful in bringing people together when social distancing is in practice,” she said.

“We love each other, and this love makes us all want to be together even we can’t sit together or hug each other,” wrote Xiaxia Meng “We had a very happy time — we sang hymns together or sang our favorite songs alone.

“The laughter, the cheers and the words of love are still vivid now.”

The Kendall Square Mandarin-language Branch, Cambridge Massachusetts Stake, gathered March 28, 2020 for a fun online karaoke activity. The evening concluded with everyone singing "I Am A Child of God."
The Kendall Square Mandarin-language Branch, Cambridge Massachusetts Stake, gathered March 28, 2020 for a fun online karaoke activity. The evening concluded with everyone singing “I Am A Child of God.” Credit: Screen capture courtesy of President Jerry Hsieh

At a moment defined by physical separation, President Hsieh said he is grateful technology allows people to remain linked. Following Sunday’s online fast and testimony meeting, the Kendall Square members remained on their Zoom conference for another hour to simply socialize and swap practical information, such as inventory trends at local grocery stores.

Saturday’s karaoke event won’t be the last of its kind for the Kendall Square Branch. 

“We’ve been brainstorming several different types of fun social activities,” said President Hsieh. “We’re planning for some online games — and one member has even suggested a dance activity.”