Remote learning has an impact on schools, families, and communities in many different ways. But, out of crises can often emerge new and incredible opportunities. ISchool is such an opportunity - students and volunteers are leveraging innovative approaches to support young students from the periphery. Their dedication to helping young pupils is truly inspiring.
Ori Knafo, the Customer Development Manager of the ISchool association, talked to us about making a difference.
Can you tell us a little about ISchool?
"ISchool was established as part of the 'Rabin Leadership' program of IDC Herzliya. As part of the program, students develop social initiatives on a variety of topics.
When the coronavirus broke out, many students stayed at home. The staff realized they could not sit idly by. They decided to provide them with a stable and good academic framework, alongside the limitations.
We quickly realized that our operating model is in great demand. It meets a real need to reduce learning gaps and provide equal opportunities for students from the geographical-social periphery."
What is your role in the association?
"I am responsible for the fundraising and the connection with municipalities and associations.
By contacting other nonprofits and organizations, we are increasing the number of volunteers and scholarships. They are the fuel of our venture, what motivates us, and what produces value for others. Working with municipalities and schools allows the expansion of activities, increases the impact, and reaches more different target audiences.
Fundraising occurs via companies and investors who want to be a part of the project.
The work is challenging and rewarding, with a real sense of doing good."
What motivates you to volunteer?
"As working people, we are busy, stressed, and it's difficult for us to find time and place to volunteer. It'll always come at a cost.
In today's reality, we are all working around the clock and dedicate the little time we have to family and friends.
Volunteering allows us to detach from the daily pressures and give to someone in need. It provides us with new perspectives, and the satisfaction we feel after volunteering is amazing.
One of our advantages in ISchool is that you feel your impact immediately. You help make the place we live in a little better.
And of course, our operation method is such that there are no physical and geographical limitations. You can volunteer from anywhere, which makes volunteering an easy process."
What do you enjoy most about volunteering?
"Although the project provides a service to students and donates to the community, I can clearly say that we, the volunteers, receive much more. Once you leave your comfort zone, you feel different.
We are all students and hold jobs, so the choice to go out to volunteer is not an obvious one. After my exposure to social actions, I felt more meaningful and, for a moment, put my personal well-being aside for the benefit of the whole.
In each of us lies the ability to make a difference and be meaningful to someone. And I guarantee that both sides come out of the process better for it."
Do you have any tips for entrepreneurs who wish to start social entrepreneurship?
"My tip for entrepreneurs is never to give up. As long as you believe in what you're doing, keep moving forward. Even if you've met people who don't believe in your idea, it doesn't mean that the idea is not good, and it is important to keep promoting it.
With social entrepreneurship, your goal is to benefit society rather than gain a profit for yourself, so you shouldn't be ashamed to initiate and make connections."
How do you keep the motivation of your volunteers?
"Our volunteers meet the students consistently and continuously because we want to create a stable environment for the students, especially during this period.
The impact is immediate and direct, and it boosts our volunteers with more motivation from lesson to lesson. They know they are needed.
It is also important for us to create a community for our volunteers, to make them feel a part of something big, a community of social action. We provide interactive pedagogical training to all volunteers, and during the process, the groups are very active. The volunteers, us, and the pedagogical consultants share materials, experiences, etc."
What has volunteering in the association contributed to you?
"I will note that the entire association staff does this voluntarily. We are a nonprofit association, and all of our income is for the development of the association.
The organization's activity proves to me that when I invest more, I earn much more personally. As part of the association's activities, I learn something new every day. Education and working with children is a world in its entirety. I've learned that children are our most precious resource, the future generation. We need to take care of them and provide each and every one with the right environment to realize their potential."
Tell about an event that moved you during the work at the association
"One-on-one private tutoring is a privilege not available to every child. Studying with parents is sometimes accompanied by a lot of pressure from both sides.
The virtual meeting in which we create connections between different life stories and geographical places harness the students and enable a safe and stress-free environment for learning.
It is important for us to give our students a sense of security, self ability, and enjoyment during the lesson. Every phone call when the parents tell us that their child is waiting for class and enjoys learning excites us. This is the essence - to give each student a learning experience that suits him."