[Past Project] Reflections on the COVID-19 Pandemic

This project seeks to establish a virtual discussion and reflection series for students from all schools of Columbia University with the goal of building community and empowering students to develop their voices and appreciate others’, starting by discussing their subjective personal experiences due to the pandemic in small groups.


This series, with 1-hour Zoom meetings ideally taking place biweekly, will initially involve small groups of 5-10 students (subject to change). Within an intimate group that serves as a safe space, students are encouraged to utilize narrative medicine techniques and reflect on pieces of art or writing curated for each session and connect them to their own lives, frustrations, and mental states for a candid conversation on each person’s subjective experiences during the pandemic. This encourages empathy, provides a starting point for meaningful dialogue and community-building, and schedules time in a student’s life to actively self-reflect and think, something that many genuinely feel like they cannot afford to do at this moment in time. 

After a few months of getting to know each other, students can potentially pool their passions, experiences, and expertise together to create a novel, interdisciplinary service project related to the pandemic. With a mix of schools represented in each group, the projects developed can utilize each person’s abilities and interests to the fullest. Faculty members are encouraged to get involved at this point to facilitate the achievement of the service projects’ goals.

Students will also be encouraged to submit reflections in the form of prose, poetry, quotes, artwork, photos, and more that will be published in the annual RCSS journal. To incentivize participation, a contest component will be implemented in which RCSS students and the advisory board will vote on their favorite reflections, awarded with a monetary prize. This phase of the project will start in Spring 2021, with the discussion series starting in Summer 2021.