58 Classes Participate in the COVID Community Diary Project/ Sonoma Responds

September 8, 2020
Our community partner, Sonoma County Library

Our community partner, Sonoma County Library

Stephanie Farris

It is safe to say that 2020 has been a time of historical significance due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a resurging racial justice movement in the U.S., and raging California wildfires, all happening during an election year. Every single person in the local community has been impacted either by the virus directly or by the statewide stay at home orders and other health protocols while also battling deep rooted racial injustices.This is a heavy time and we have all had to adapt to a new way of life that undoubtedly has been difficult but necessary.

In an effort to document this profound moment in history, the CCE has partnered with the Sonoma County Library to offer a new form of distant service-learning in which students from over 55 classes are participating in the Community Diary Project/Sonoma Responds. This project aims to collect documentation on how students and the community have been affected by these unprecedented times. Special Collections Librarian and Archivist at the Sonoma County Library expressed that the library loved the idea of working with the CCE on the Community Diary Project (CDP) because they believe this project will be unique from other COVID documentations, in that it is local to the community of Sonoma County. Kolosov also said that the Library was pleasantly surprised by the amount of classes participating in the Community Diary Project.

Over this past summer three classes took part in the project, and many more classes are  participating during the Fall. There are a variety of classes taking part in this project including courses from each academic School. Students are expressing the impacts of covid through written projects, art pieces, video, conducting and analyzing interviews, etc. There is quite a bit of freedom for faculty to decide how they want to connect their course materials to the overall goal of the project.

A great example of a summer class that combined course material with CDP is Communications 240, taught by professor Emily Acosta Lewis. This class focuses on public relations in which students typically work on creating a PR proposal for community-based clients. Acosta Lewis’ students tied together their PR knowledge with CDP by creating strategies to recruit future participants for CDP. Students also shared their own experiences with the pandemic through self reflections. Acosta Lewis encouraged her students to explore their creativity with their reflections including in both video and written formats. “Everyone has a story to share about these times even if their stories seem mundane,” said Acosta Lewis in reference to her students' reflections. Acosta Lewis herself reflected on the project saying, “I think what's really wonderful about this project is that it can be implemented in any course and can be as in-depth as faculty want it to be,” and, “It's a great way to try out service-learning in a way that is impactful and meaningful without a lot of the additional work that is normally involved in preparing a service-learning course.”

Both the CCE and the Sonoma County Library have been impressed with the result of the project thus far and are greatly looking forward to what the courses in the fall semester will contribute. “Sonoma County Library’s Special Collections staff are very excited to be partnering with SSU’s Center for Community Engagement to collect the personal stories of students living through the pandemic. How Covid-19 is impacting college life and learning is a part of the collective experience that should be reflected in the historical record. The library is pleased that professors from courses as wide ranging as Communications to Chemistry are encouraging students to contribute their creative works to the library’s community archive. These materials will be the primary sources from which future generations learn about these remarkable times,” said Kolosov. 

Students will have the opportunity for their work to be featured in a virtual showcase hosted by the LARC in both the fall and spring semesters. The fall showcase will take place via Zoom, beginning on December 1st at 10:00am and continuing until December 6th. Links to this showcase will be posted on the LARC and CCE webpages.