People illustrations by Storyset
Stories of the Pandemic Youth
—Oral History Project
Stories of the Pandemic Youth is Race to a Cure’s first oral history project. During this project, we had the chance to interact with 16 Canadian youth to learn about their experiences during the first and second waves of COVID-19. They shared with us how their routine has changed, how their school schedule has been modified, what hobbies they have developed, and what they wish to do after the pandemic.
During these testing times, it is important to gain an understanding of how people outside of our local communities are adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic. The perspectives of adults and politicians have been highlighted through the media, but as adolescents, we, the youth, are at critical times in our lives where we are making important decisions, such as those surrounding post-secondary education and transition into adulthood.
We hope to feature the voices of Canadian youth who have been affected more by the pandemic and allow them to share their stories. From modified classes to new hobbies, this oral history initiative aims to document the lives of youth during the first and second waves of the COVID-19 pandemic. The final video was released in May 2021.
Oral History is a primary source “preserving and interpreting the voices and memories of people and communities in past events,” according to the Oral History Association. It has acted historically to record present life for future generations in the fields of arts, anthropology, and history.
For example, in 2001, an oral history project was conducted on John Florio who graduated from the University of Illinois in 1934. The goal was to document school life during the Great Depression. Despite the time frame between the recording and the Great Depression, Florio—because he lived through the event—could be a reliable representative and conserver of the era 70 years later. His audio is particularly special as it preserves parts of the Great Depression less commonly talked about: student life, coming-of-age stories, and more.
Similarly, SPY is a mix of a casual conversation (with planned responses) whose audio is overlaid with relevant media such as photos, videos, and music. By taking part in the context of COVID-19, Canadian participants of R2AC SPY will contribute to the accurate documentation of the second wave of the pandemic and a reliable recollection of the first wave.
Interview with Global News BC
On Saturday, July 24, 2021, Race to a Cure was interviewed by Global News BC to share how “Stories of the Pandemic Youth” explored the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic from the point of view of Canadian youth. Our Senior Advisor and Director of SPY, Serena Zheng, represented R2AC to share the inspiration behind the documentary.