Stories from the Pandemic is our response to the global health crisis. When Covid-19 hit, we launched a blog where young people could defy the barriers of quarantine by reporting from home. We designed the site to host photography, video, audio and writing that shares a youth perspective of this unprecedented time. From vacating dorm rooms to virtual graduations, shared family time to economic insecurity, Stories from the Pandemic is a platform where students become frontline documentarians to reveal history in the making.
We launched the project with a group of eight “special correspondents,” students with whom we had worked over the past several years. Most were National Geographic Photo Camp alumni whose previous images can be seen through our stories, Picturing Newark and Malta Through Refugee Eyes. Through a series of weekly journalistic assignments, they take us inside their homes and personal struggles, and share stories of family and friends in other countries. Currently, we meet via Skype once per week, where we share our Covid struggles and triumphs and critique each other’s work. Their reporting sets the tone for the blog, which has been featured on the BBC and The New York Times, and has received submissions from around the world.
Newest Americans, in partnership with the Newark Board of Education, also developed a series of lessons for Stories from the Pandemic so educators could replicate our model. We hosted a webinar for 18 Newark high school teachers to deploy our lessons in their virtual classrooms as they adapted to online teaching. The concept is to train and empower youth to own their own narratives, cultivate their unique voices and become media makers in the process.