Summer CSGC Grant Update: Preserving Narratives of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Last summer of 2021, I interned under Dr. William Haseltine at the New York office of ACCESS Health International, a non-profit think tank whose U.S. chapter pivoted its research efforts to COVID-19 news. With an interest in anthropology and public policy research, I wanted to take back some of the lessons I learned during my internship and apply them to an independent project, which has recently culminated in writing a series of stories featuring impactful people. I envision the series to be published in a non-fiction journal-like book format. I have been working actively with a publishing company that is franchised by Reader’s Digest.

To detail my approach, I first interviewed several people that have been uniquely impacted by the pandemic. Using information from the interviews, I wrote short feature stories on each individual that convey a specific message that contributes to the book’s overall theme of community solidarity and seeking hope during trying times. In my series, I featured people who have lost loved ones to the pandemic, worked as essential front-line workers, or had financial/job difficulties. I also included stories of those who played pivotal roles in COVID relief by running non-profits, healthcare services, or mentorship programs to help make a difference in their own ways.

Every person had an incredibly compelling story to tell which I believe is essential to preserve and continue to share in the future as we carry the legacies of what we learned during this global health crisis. Furthermore, I felt that compiling this series featuring our community members would be a great way to capture a snapshot of history and elucidate stories that would otherwise be unheard of. This book aims to inspire readers to reflect upon critical lessons from the pandemic and reconcile with how we can move forward and build a brighter future for the next generations. Hence, by preserving a feeling of collective strength, individual resilience, and emotional vulnerability in my featured stories, I aim to create a part of the narrative that shapes our memory of the COVID-19 pandemic.

-Neha Jampala ’23