Online Courses and Psychological Assistance: How HSE Volunteers Are Working During the Pandemic
On March 18, the Older Generation Support Centre opened at HSE University. HSE News Service continues to interview students and employees of the university who are helping senior citizens through the difficulties of self-isolation by delivering medicine and food, sharing useful information, and holding online classes. Today, volunteers who teach foreign languages to pensioners speak about how they have become volunteers.
Arina Fedorova, first-year master’s student, Faculty of Humanities
I began volunteering when I was a first-year bachelor’s student, so I’ve had a solid five-years of experience. I taught English to children of refugees, then I was involved in deciphering manuscripts in the archives of the Tretyakov Gallery. I am currently a volunteer of both the Memorial Human Right Centre and the HSE Older Generation Support Center.
I try to help people whenever I can. I submitted an application to participate when I saw the email newsletter saying that volunteers are needed to support older people. Moreover, I told my younger sister (she is an HSE student, too) about the project, and she is going to join it.
I mainly teach French. There aren’t many volunteers who can teach this language, so I decided to give it a try. All university studies have been suspended, but students of the HSE Moscow Longevity project want to continue their courses online. Currently, I’ve got three female students. I have one-on-one online classes with each of them twice a week. We discuss things, study new words, and analyze grammar.
All the women I’m teaching live very active lives. They have hobbies: they are keen on sports, they adore going to the theatre and art galleries, and they study foreign languages. It is not easy for them (as for all of us) to stay at home, being trapped between four walls. So I believe simple human communication is vital in this time.
It is important to be able to distract people from coronavirus concerns and help them focus on positive things and normal, everyday news
Teaching is quite helpful for me too, as it gives me a good opportunity to improve my language skills. Besides, each of my students is an interesting person to talk to. Each of them has a lot of fascinating stories to tell me about her life, so I love chatting with them. I would like to continue teaching them when the pandemic is over. I will be happy if any of them would like to go on with the classes.
Yelena Plotnikova, 63 years old, Arina’s student
Arina teaches me twice a week. Each online class lasts 15-20 minutes. We discuss various topics in French. We have talked about Paris and we’ve learned something about each other (first Arina answered my questions about herself, then it was my turn to answer her questions). Next class, we will be talking about professions. We both want to continue our sessions.
It is great when volunteers can help older people. I have classes with Arina and I’m supported by volunteers of the Moscow Longevity project: the students share videos on gymnastics and yoga, telling me about other useful things I can find on YouTube. HSE offered me some help too, but I declined because I didn’t need anything else.
Victoria Popova, third-year student, Faculty of Social Sciences
The pandemic has affected almost everyone in the world. Now we realize that we are all hostages of the same problem and that we can only solve it together. Not only heads of states, but also medical workers and ordinary people should stand together to fight the virus. Unfortunately, older people appear to be the most vulnerable group of the population. Many of them are staying at home all alone, and they are being bombarded with sad and scary news. This can’t help but affect their emotional state. Foreign language classes are a wonderful opportunity to forget about one’s problems—at least for the time being—and to relieve psychological stress.
I teach English to some elderly people who live in Moscow. We meet online twice a week using either Skype or a messenger. My students have different levels of English proficiency, which I always bear in mind, and I try to meet their needs: some of them would like to brush up on grammar, while others just want to have some speaking practice.
Online learning is our future. It is good that older people in Moscow have sufficient levels of information literacy skills, and they feel pretty comfortable using special programmes and messengers.
I like working as a volunteer. I’ve made friends with some very interesting people. This has been a valuable experience volunteering, communicating in a foreign language, and helping others learn English. Today everyone has a wonderful opportunity to do something useful to others.
World Bank—HSE University Webinar Examines the Costs of School Closures During the Covid-19 Pandemic
On May 21, the joint webinar series, ‘Education under COVID-19: Problems, Solutions, Perspectives, Research’ began with a session about the effects of school closures under the pandemic. Harry Anthony Patrinos of the World Bank presented the results of a model that he and a team of researchers developed in order to predict the extent to which the closures may reduce learning and lead to future losses in labor productivity and earnings for today’s students. The webinar was moderated by Isak Froumin (Head of the HSE Institute of Education), while Professors Tommaso Agasisti (School of Management, Politecnico di Milano) and Sergey Kosaretsky (Director, HSE Centre of General and Extracurricular Education) served as discussants.
Experts, participants and moderators gathered to share their predictions about the future of the humanity after the pandemic. What paradigm will replace anthropocentrism? What will happen to globalization, consumer civilization, and megalopolises? How will the virus impact policy and democracy and what will post-COVID ethics and anthropology look like?
In a recent report, HSE experts evaluated the world’s 14 countries hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic based on data (including the number of recorded deaths) from May 1, 2020 or later. The report also examined 16 other countries whose experience was considered significant. While refraining from making generalizations, experts nonetheless noted that leaders in Europe and the United States have generally not responded to the situation as effectively as their Asian counterparts. Africa, meanwhile, follows its own course, while the situation in Brazil is worse.
China was the first country to be hit by the coronavirus, and other countries have looked to its handling of the outbreak as a model. Former HSE student Sergey Stepanov, who has been studying and working in China for the past four years, shared his personal experience with the COVID-19 outbreak while in China.
The Covid-19 pandemic has severely restricted social contacts for people everywhere, and especially for the elderly. Yet, HSE researchers found that meeting with friends and relatives was one of the key conditions for happiness among Europeans aged 50 and older. In fact, such social contacts were just as important for them as their health, material well-being, or professional fulfilment. The report on the results of the study was prepared for the XXI April International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development.
Demographers have been thrust to the frontlines of the world’s efforts to evaluate the coronavirus pandemic, but so far without any weapons. Lacking data, they cannot reliably assess the situation. And this is despite the fact that the Internet, it would seem, is flush with statistics. A webinar hosted by the HSE International Laboratory for Population and Health discussed the paradoxes of quantitative approaches to COVID-19. IQ.HSE spoke with webinar participants Vladimir Shkolnikov, Inna Danilova, and Dmitry Jdanov.
A mathematical model of Covid-19 spreading in Nizhny Novgorod Region, which has been created by the Big Data Laboratory at Nizhny Novgorod Development Strategy Project Office, has been widely discussed in the media and on social networks. The research was led by Anastasia Popova, a master’s student of HSE University in Nizhny Novgorod, repeat winner of machine learning competitions, and winner of Ilya Segalovich Award by Yandex. In the following interview given on April 15, Anastasia speaks about how the model was developed, the data it uses, and long-term potential applications.
The HSE Institute for Social Policy is renewing its monitoring of the population’s socio-economic status and social well-being. The first issue includes a 2019 summary and short analysis of the trends related to the Covid-19 pandemic. Experts have concluded that many unfavourable trends were not overcome last year and that the current crisis will worsen the situation.
In late March at the Kommunarka COVID-19 Hospital outside of Moscow, a pilot project was launched that allows healthcare professionals to coordinate their efforts remotely while working with coronavirus patients. The system, which is run using ‘smart glasses’, is now in operation at ten Moscow hospitals. Ilya Flaks, a graduate of HSE’s Master’s Programme in E-Business and project founder, spoke with the HSE News Service about how the smart glasses help doctors and what prospects lie ahead for using virtual reality (VR) in health care.
The OECD Committee for Scientific and Technological Policy (STP) held its first meeting of the year in early April. HSE staff members Mikhail Gershman, Dirk Meissner and Elena Sabelnikova joined Ministry of Education and Science representatives as members of the Russian delegation to the event. Here, they explain which approaches participants discussed for combating the coronavirus and for preventing other global crises.