Telling Our Covid Stories Doris Wang
Photography of ‘assemblage’ artwork by Doris Wang ’21.

Trinity College students have captured their various experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic in creative ways that allow them to express their complicated feelings.

The “Telling Our Covid Stories” initiative, launched in the spring 2020 semester by the college’s Center for Hartford Engagement and Research (CHER), invited students to submit proposals for projects that could help deepen the understanding of different people’s experiences of this crisis and how communities have responded. The projects could take the form of written essays, photography, art, audio, video, and other creative media. Students who created projects were paid as hourly student workers, as a way to help compensate for lost campus job income while many of them were living at home.

Telling Our Covid Stories Olivia Zeiner-Morrish
A digital storybook for children written and illustrated by Olivia Zeiner-Morrish ’22.

Jack Dougherty, professor of educational studies and director of CHER, explained in a blog post how CHER used this initiative as one way to meet the challenge of keeping people connected to each other and civically engaged while physically separated during the pandemic. He said that the project draws inspiration from the Works Progress Administration (WPA), which employed artists, musicians, and writers to create cultural works during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Erica Crowley, communications and data assistant for CHER, said that the projects created by students can help people to understand this moment in history, in addition to documenting it. “We didn’t want to limit the ways students did this. I was really inspired by the raw honesty in the stories we received,” Crowley said. “There was a real need for a creative outlet, and now the students have a piece of work that acknowledges what they lived through in this time that also connects them to Trinity.”

Telling Our Covid Stories Sonjah Dessalines
A watercolor of a quarantine living space by Sonjah Dessalines ’22.

The subject matter is often personal. “Some of the students chose to remain anonymous,” Crowley added. “Some worked in pairs, and it was great to see them stay connected to each other through this project remotely. All the stories are really different, but if there is one theme I saw coming through, it’s that students who felt comfortable sharing their personal emotions thought that readers would really relate to their experiences.”

Students submitted their proposals in early April and created the projects by May. Each student was matched with an editor on the CHER staff. Twenty submissions were received, and each will be published on the CHER blog. (See the complete list of projects below.) In addition to current Trinity students, two Capital Community College students and one Trinity alumna also created projects.

Telling Our Covid Stories Matin Yaqubi
‘Trinity in the Time of Corona’ photography by Matin Yaqubi ’23, who also took the photo at the top of the page.

Beatrice Alicea, assistant director of the Office of Community Service and Civic Engagement, edited several of the submissions and worked with students to help fine-tune their pieces. “This project brought meaning and validation to the students’ experiences and demonstrates how this pandemic affects no two households in the same way,” Alicea said. “It is important that we continue to provide spaces where student voices can be heard. Working on this project was inspiring and eye-opening because it shows us how we must be creative to meet the varying and evolving needs of our students and community.”

See all of the “Telling Our Covid Stories” here or click on the links to the individual projects below.

‘Telling Our Covid Stories’ directory:

Far from Home: International Students During Covid – Written by Archana Adhikari ’22

Isolated with our triggers: We are not well – Written by Esther Appiah ’21

Finding Happiness in Isolation – Written by Kelsey Brown ’23

Trying to live in color: Transitioning between 2 urban environments during covid 19 – Written by Sonjah Dessalines ’22, with sketches and watercolors

Growing During Covid: Urban Farming in Hartford – Writing and photography by Gabby Nelson and Adyanna Odom ’23

“Isolated” Documentary Film – Short film by Krystal Philson ’21

Millie the Succulent Takes on Quarantine! – Photography by Allison Rau ’23

Poetry in Athens, Greece During Covid – Written by Lillia Schmidt ’21

History Becomes Personal: Living Through the Pandemic of 2020 – Written by Elizabeth Sockwell ’20

Creativity During Quarantine – Written by Doris Wang ’21, with photography of “assemblage” artwork

Trinity in the Time of Corona: a photo essay – Photography by Matin Yaqubi ’23

Stuck at Home – Life During Coronavirus – Digital storybook for children written and illustrated by Olivia Zeiner-Morrish ’22

Reality of COVID-19 in Poland on the outside and inside – Written by Kamila Zygadlo ’23

The Pandemic’s Financial Struggles – Written by Anonymous Student

Too Afraid to Leave, Too Afraid to Stay: My Experience as an International Student During COVID-19 – Written by Anonymous Student

To be published soon:

A Tale of Two Cities: Our Communities’ Responses to COVID-19 – By Eleanor Chmielowicz ’23 and Anastasia Hanifin ’23

Where do Quarantined Minds Go? – By Capital Community College student Shian Earlington

In the Back Streets – By Capital Community College student Levey Kardulis

Global Margins During the Pandemic: A photo essay of Foz do Iguaçu – By Samia Khoder ’21

From Our Hearts: #beautyintheageofCOVID – By Maria Tuckler M’19