Life at Lander Continues Online
Azzi Kimmel, Student Government Leader at Lander College for Men, Shares How Students and Faculty Mobilized in Corona's Wake
The last few weeks have been chaotic for everyone. When we first heard about coronavirus, the students at Lander didn’t know if it was another flu that would blow over or something to be taken seriously. As the days went by, we all realized it was a legitimate health concern, our parents were summoning us home, but we had so many questions and concerns. Do we pack up for a week? A month? The rest of the year? Will we finish the semester and earn credit for all our classes?
The dean called us together for a town hall meeting and addressed every single question, so we had a clear understanding of what needed to be done from a scholastic perspective. The school was quick to ensure that we had the resources and support we needed to seamlessly transition to online learning without losing a sense of community. Thanks to their preemptive steps, we barely missed any classes. Although teachers and students alike had to adapt to the new technology, the test we did the week before we actually needed it helped us all get acclimated and showed us this new classroom reality was doable.
Taking classes via zoom has allowed us to retain a sense of normalcy and helps us maintain a structure and routine, even though our regular routine has been upended. Every single morning, we are able to attend an interactive Torah study session with our rabbi, followed by interactive classes with our professors. We are learning all of the same material we learned while we were physically in school, and yet the professors find ways to make these classes engaging. Lander has always offered stimulating lessons for our nightly Torah study. Currently, there are three or four nightly Torah sessions on a wide range of topics. In addition, we still have the opportunity to ask questions and have discussions related to the session. It is awesome that we have Rabbi Shmuel Marcus, a scholar and Jewish law expert, delivering insights and answering questions that are so relevant to our lives right now.
We still feel connected and know everyone is going through the same struggles and hardships. It is definitely a time of uncertainty, and we appreciate that our guidance counselor, Ari Manheim, LCSW, has been giving zoom workshops on how to deal with anxiety, loneliness and productivity. As a mental health professional, he understands that everyone is going through something unique. He is helping us process this new normal—weddings in backyards with only immediate family present, being unable to visit our grandparents or enjoy sports and so much more. We are touching on the questions that are top of mind for all of us. When this is over, will we ever be comfortable shopping in huge malls on Black Friday or socializing as we used to? How will our grad school and job prospects be impacted long term?
Throughout this crisis, Touro has been proactive in preparing us for what's to come next through virtual town hall meetings. These meetings covered everything from taking online classes to moving out of the dorms to contacting the bursar. They also discussed the proper precautions to take to stay safe and healthy.
The students are scheduling group fitness and lunches by zoom so we can all hang out together, even if we are not physically close. The irony of this entire situation is that now, more than ever, the student body feels more connected. We are all struggling together, we are all worrying about the future together and through this, we are all growing together.
*Matthew Waizer contributed to this story.