Building Community during Crisis

When COVID-19 broke, hundreds of students who participated in “TAU Impact,” the University’s flagship community leadership program, were forced to abruptly terminate their field work.

In response, the TAU Impact team, run by the Dean of Students, transformed their roster of community service programs from hands-on to virtual “overnight,” according to TAU Impact director Rachel Warshawsky. This involved guiding schoolchildren who were learning remotely, as well as online and phone work with the elderly, blind, mentally ill and other groups, among other activities. The popular TAU program offers accredited courses integrating academic knowledge with community service and will soon be a requirement for all undergraduate students.

Ravid Yehezkely, a medicine and life sciences student, had been teaching a movement class for physically disabled adults for her TAU Impact course when the pandemic started. She was immediately recruited by Warshawsky’s team to tutor high schools students. In addition to assisting them with schoolwork, she helped them cope with the hardships of the lockdown.

In another successful TAU Impact project, students in the course “Ethics of Big Data in Smart Cities” created an app called TAU-Walks, which helps the blind and visually impaired navigate TAU’s campus.

“We succeeded in carrying out meaningful social projects which helped many people in the community—even if from a distance—as well as the students themselves, who were gratified that they could contribute to society during this difficult time,” concludes Warshawsky.  

During the Fall 2020 semester, TAU Impact students continued to carry out their field work remotely.

Featured image: Student Ravid Yehezkely. Photo: Moshe Bedarshi.

student stories, Tel Aviv University

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