“Social Services in times of crisis: Responding to post-earthquake needs in Durres” – a student engagement case, responding to the community needs in times of the natural disaster, after the 6.4 earthquake in Albania in November 2019.
The Service-Learning approach lasted one academic semester, involving 25 students, with an impact upon 256 people in 5 remote villages. Temporary accommodation, tents, social, psychological and edutainment services were offered to the affected families.
It enabled students to attain practical skills in real-life situations, while community partners benefited from the services and free support. The Master level students, teachers and community members acted very fast, impressively guided by the academic frames and openness of the university staff and the students, who were ready to work even outside the curriculum hours and to design the intervention plan with the members of the community. As a result, financial help, social and legal services as well as education and health initiatives took place in the remote areas of Ishem (Durres, Albania), after the Earthquake.
Service outcomes were intricately linked with learning outcomes. Students acted as facilitators, experts, and agents of change, but they also kept reflecting diaries and reported to academic standards set as per the university program, rules, and mission. Impact on the community was measurable (number of accommodation and services provided). Impact on learning was assessed as per the ad-hoc plan designed when the intervention started.