Home in the Time of Covid: Service

March 11, 2021

This story is part of a series entitled “Teaching in the Time of Covid.” The series explores how the UTSA Honors College transformed its experiential curriculum into a virtual curriculum and how the pandemic has shaped students’ experiences within the virtual classroom. The curriculum emphasizes interdisciplinary work in Service Learning, Professional Development, Intellectual Achievement and Research, Cultural Exploration, Engaged Living, and Skill Development. In this article, we highlight an upper level course in Service Learning. We hope you enjoy the series! – Jill Fleuriet, Acting Dean, UTSA Honors College

Honors College lecturer Amy Hauck incorporated the pandemic into her classroom lessons with her Service course, Home In The Time of Covid. Ms. Hauck has been teaching at UTSA since 2011. She taught her first online course in 2014 and disliked the experience so much – mostly due the lack of student connection present in a face-to-face setting – that she vowed never to do it again. However, with the arrival of a global pandemic, she was forced to resume online teaching. Luckily, this time, she had support from the Honors College and was able to find ways to innovate and connect with her students in the new modality.

Hauck’s summer course was the result of a partnership between the UTSA Honors College and the Prospera Housing Community Services, a South Texas non-profit organization that provides affordable housing and support to individuals in need. According to Hauck, Prospera received “a grant from H-E-B and other partners to work on a ‘narrative change’ project that seeks to probe the question, ‘What kind of person lives in affordable housing?’” Prospera’s goal was to combat stereotypes often associated with affordable housing residents. Ms. Hauck stated that during this project, students and staff found more similarities than differences in their experiences of struggling to navigate and adapt to change during this time and that it was “such an honor to hear their stories, and celebrate resilience and gratitude together during this strange time.”

According to the syllabus, students for this course “conducted primary research by collecting and preserving narratives from residents and contribut{ed} to building an interactive, community-wide project in an effort to reshape the narrative around affordable housing in San Antonio”. They also “examined social inequity, inequality, commonality and difference within the local San Antonio community through hearing and collecting the stories of residents in affordable housing communities as well as UTSA students.”

The students in Hauck’s course were challenged with identifying possible interview candidates, building rapport and trust with interviewees, navigating tech challenges, and conducting audio interviews remotely with Prospera Residents and employees. They edited recordings, added narration and music, and they were then posted on the news story page on Prospera’s website. The interviews are quite compelling and worth a listen. They can be found here. All but one of her students had no prior interviewing and audio recording experience. This project will continue in Spring 2021.