Allegheny College students interviewing Afghan refugees at USCRI-Erie for the COVID memory project on March 31, 2023.
The Allegheny College Global Citizen’s (GCS) COVID Memory Project is intended to provide a platform for less commonly heard voices to hear the unheard and their personal narratives of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed issues of equity, access, and connectedness in our global community and brought to light historical legacies that have long informed these issues. The interviews below were designed to document and explore these legacies.
Interviews with the Allegheny College Community
Chris Lundberg, an Instructor in Allegheny College in the Biology and Math department, shares his Covid-19 story by sharing with us all about his job and his life at the moment. Chris Lundberg shares about his personal and professional life in Meadville at Allegheny College and home.
Miles Frank, a first year student Allegheny College (class of 2025) shares remembrances about learning online, his canceled 2020 high school graduation, and learning about himself during the pandemic.
Elyse Cinquino was a senior at Allegheny College during the outbreak of Covid-19, and in this interview she discusses the effect Covid-19 had on her while she was simultaneously dealing with graduating college. Cinquino talks about the isolating feelings that arose as the pandemic became more serious, as well as the shocking reality of the pandemic being a part of the campus and everyday life. She remembers when the pandemic was first mentioned, and how it was easy at first to brush it off. Now, she knows the result of the pandemic was much more serious.
Dakchyata Thapa, a 2021 graduate of Allegheny College shares her experiences during the COVID pandemic as an international student in Global Health. Dakchyata expressed her concerns toward the very different experience as she had to travel internationally for her study; However, she tried to look at the positive side of the pandemic that as a Global Health student, she fully explored and learned from the circumstances.
Antony Bishay, a 2022 student and graduate of Allegheny College, shares his experience from 2020 to 2022. Bishay discusses the experiences of attending college and the unthinkable switch to online learning, as well as barriers he had as a student looking to intern and conduct research that was intercepted by COVID-19. Bishay also discusses the difficulty of applying to medical school as well as the worry about safety both personally and globally throughout the pandemic.
Eliza Gomez, a first-year student and golfer at Allegheny College from California, shares her experiences from 2020 to 2022. Elisa first relays her experiences as a high school student when the COVID-19 pandemic first started. She also speaks about how the pandemic affected her first year of college. She discusses what it was like to be living in the large city of Los Angeles, California, at the height of the pandemic.
Kirsten Peterson, Senior Assistant Dean of Health Professions Advising and Instructor of Global Health Studies, narrates her first impressions of COVID, initial frustrations, and settling into the loneliness of the lockdown. Discussing the adjustments to her professional and personal life at the time, Peterson also laments the incredible amount of death and the way that the pandemic exacerbated social polarization and exposed disparities in society. Among the grief and social isolation, she also remembers the selfishness and generosity the pandemic brought out in people, and fears that it was a lost opportunity for lasting change.
Suzyn-Elayne Soler, former Allegheny College Associate Director of Admissions, discusses her experience working at Allegheny and working through the college admissions process during COVID-19. Soler discusses how her personal life was impacted as well as the struggles of trying to recruit prospective students to Allegheny and the changes made to the workplace and student application process during the pandemic.
Yvonne Longstreth is one of Allegheny’s most beloved market cashiers. Yvonne explains her experience on the front lines of the Allegheny College COVID experience. She relays a sense of fear that the pandemic instilled in all of us and her personal experience with her pregnant daughter and elderly father during the health crisis.
Maria Foxall, the director of Brooks Dining Hall for Allegheny College during the pandemic 2020-2022. Foxall and her staff had to constantly reimagine what a college dining service could look like during a global pandemic. During the interview Foxman emphasizes the contrasting success Denmark had with coping with the pandemic in comparison to the United States. She ended the interview was a sentiment of importance.
Professor Becky Dawson shares elements of her work as a public facing scientist during the pandemic and her thoughts on epidemics of racism, homophobia, misinformation, arrogance, poverty, unequal distribution of wealth and access to goods, and food insecurity that became for clearly delineated during the COVID pandemic.
Interviews with the Meadville Community
Alicia Staats and Alishia Stevenson worked at the Wesbury United Methodist Retirement Community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through this interview, Staats and Stevenson shed light on the successes and challenges of working in a retirement home during the pandemic
Hannah Fuller, was the Operations Director of the Meadville Family YMCA during the pandemic. Throughout the interview a discussion about how to navigate the inner workings of a nonprofit during a global pandemic takes place. Hannah also discusses the blatant shift in her home life due to the pandemic, this initial lack of activities and differences in the culture approaching COVID compared to when working at the YMCA.
Tammy Cowden-Maloney works at the Meadville Family YMCA Gym, Fitness Center, and Child Care with positions heading membership and food services, feeding the Meadville, Pennsylvania community. Tammy is an active person who cared for her late mother while transitioning through many jobs during the pandemic, ultimately ending up at her original home, the YMCA.
Patti Prince and Shanile McPherson both work at Women’s Services in Meadville, Pennsylvania. Prince is the Shelter Manager and McPherson is the Housing Coordinator. Both gave insightful statements of how they first learned about the pandemic and how their understanding of it influenced their decisions to continuously run the shelter. They discussed how they closed some rooms to prevent contamination, the sanitization practices they put in place, how they followed CDC guidelines, and the heartbreaking reality of having to turn people away because of closed rooms and a lack of food.
Tammy Cowden-Maloney works at the Meadville Family YMCA Gym, Fitness Center, and Child Care with positions heading membership and food services, feeding the Meadville, Pennsylvania community. Tammy is an active person who cared for her late mother while transitioning through many jobs during the pandemic, ultimately ending up at her original home, the YMCA..
Andrew Troyer, a local Conneaut Lake Amish community member and business owner of Troyer’s Bird Paradise and Troyer’s Rope Co. shares his experiences from 2020 to 2022. This interview took place at Troyer’s Rope Co. on October 20, 2022 with Lauren Petrarca and Cam Kaminski, members of the COVID Memory Project being conducted by Global Citizen Scholars Cohort V. Troyer discusses the importance of keeping Amish traditions in his life and how this contributed to a unique experience during the pandemic, in addition to the economic impacts of owning a business and production and supply barriers.
Jaime Kinder is the first black female mayor of Meadville. Kinder was born and raised in Meadville and before becoming mayor, she owned a business downtown. Being a local change maker, Kinder gives insight to the struggles and triumphs the town faced during the pandemic. Kinder ended the interview with a sentiment of hope about us coming together and making our communities an area of importance in our lives.
Interviews with International Communities
Cibamvunya Borromée Misdya, Harivimana Bambanzi, Bulangalire Arsene, Florence Morendo, and Leoncio Vwomurenge are refugees from Congo, Africa. They share their experiences from 2020 to 2023. They discussed the challenges of losing jobs and the economic crisis during the pandemic as well as the fear associated with the pandemic and the COVID-19 vaccine.
Nanda Chuwann, Finance Coordinator at USCRI, Erie (and translator for Kul Basnet) shares his experiences from 2020 to 2023. Chuwann discusses the ever-changing dynamics of the refugee community in his experiences such as the hardships of adjusting to a new lifestyle and limits of accessibility for health and resources for refugees.
Ibrahim Aljallad’s, Kahlid Abdullah’s, and Thaer Mahmood Hassan’s familiarity with the U.S. spans from two months to seven years. The group relays their experiences living in Syria, Jordan, and Erie during the pandemic. They mainly discussed challenges brought to light due to COVID across class boundaries, where they received information about COVID and general vaccine hesitancy.
Dawit Asgedom, a refugee from Eritrea, shares his experience with refugee camps during the COVID pandemic. Asgedom shares the perspective of refugees living in camps during COVID-19. It was a hopeless time, and they struggled to find food and survival measures. Dawit personally is a leader in many refugee organizations, and he shares his success with work in the U.S. and a vision of hope for his future. He ends his interview with a plea for help to support refugees and camps like the ones that he spoke of.
Kamala Khatiwada is a refugee from Nepal with a whole family including her two children. Settling initially in North Carolina and later in Washington State, Kamala lost her house due to the COVID-19 lockdown and moved to Erie to be with her family. She expressed her experience with cultural barriers when she came to the states, especially with the daily interactions through hand movements. Kamala had to take care and support her family as the mother and daughter figure during the COVID-19 and lockdown journey.
Kul Basnet is a Bhutanese refugee who came to Erie in 2012. In the interview, he shares his experiences throughout the pandemic and perceptions of Covid-19 as a refugee. Basnet discusses the anxiety of being in a different country and needing to work throughout the pandemic in order to make an income, and having to overcome Covid-19 along with the battle of suffering from long-covid which affected him both physically and mentally. He also discusses the way his community came together to help one another, and shares his optimism for being able to overcome the difficult times as a community.
Manuel Morales, a farmer originally from a small indigenous town in the state of Michoacan, Mexico. Due to NAFTA he was forced to move to the Mexican border town of Nogales in which he now lives and works. This interview was conducted through zoom on April 6, 2023, by Nicole Recio Bremer, a member of the COVID Memory Project being conducted by Global Citizen Scholars Cohort V. Manuel expresses his experiences as a farmer, father and Mexican during the covid-19 pandemic. Manuel also shared what covid means to him and how God has helped him through the journey.