Hudson teen seeks first person accounts of COVID-19 pandemic

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By Dakota Antelman, Contributing Writer

Hudson teen seeks first person accounts of COVID-19 pandemic
Aline Keledjian
Photo/submitted

Hudson – Historical Society volunteer Aline Keledjian says she’s recently been gripped by the history unfolding around her. 

That in turn, she explains, has spurred her to launch a new initiative committed to preserving this history for future generations. 

“People obviously are going to look back on this time in the future to see how we could have changed things or what worked,” she said, highlighting the value of such documentation.

Now a Hudson High School senior, Keledjian started volunteering for Hudson’s downtown museum as a sophomore. 

Since then, she’s worked mainly to digitize the Society’s collections of artifacts, newspapers, photos and books documenting local life through the 19th and 20th centuries. 

Hudson teen seeks first person accounts of COVID-19 pandemic
A photo from the Hudson Historical Society Instagram page shows a physical journal volunteer Aline Keledjian intended to copy submitted journal entries as a crowdsourced portrait of local COVID-19 impacts.
Photo/Hudson Historical Society

Outside of that duty, she’s maintained rotating exhibits in the museum space and launched an Instagram account to showcase special items in the Historical Society’s possession. 

The account has since grown to boast close to 200 followers and has begun to achieve a goal of broadening the audience for the Historical Society’s message to include Keledijian’s younger peers. 

When public spaces like the Historical Society rapidly closed their doors last month, though, Keledijian said she found herself suddenly forced to get creative in creating content without actual historical artifacts to showcase.

“I wanted to do something to keep our followers engaged,” she said. “I didn’t just want to be idle.”

Her solution to that quagmire? Simply make new artifacts. 

Since early April, she’s posted weekly prompts to the Historical Society account with the expressed purpose of soliciting submissions for a crowdsourced portrait of the coronavirus pandemic in Hudson. 

“Having a wide range of perspectives, even if it’s from a small community like Hudson, is important,” she said. “It will help future generations to see what people in this time are seeing around them.”

She says public reception of this push has been overwhelmingly positive, though she adds that she hopes to get more actual journal responses in the coming weeks than she has currently amassed. 

 She has reason to hope.

This type of project is one that’s gained traction across mediums and cultures throughout the now months-long global coronavirus crisis. 

In China in January and February, an army of citizen journalists risked persecution by defying censors and documenting their daily lives in quarantine through video diaries they circulated across video sharing platforms. That work quickly provided valuable insight into the actual situation in cities like Wuhan as the Chinese government tried to otherwise control the flow of information on COVID-19’s severity. 

Since the virus spread outside of China, the already popular short-form viral video app TikTok has further emerged as a space for everyday citizens, first responders, and medical professionals alike to share scenes from their daily lives.

“It’s been so interesting seeing people document what their experiences are like,” Keledjian said of all this, then adding, “That definitely inspired my idea.”

Ultimately, Keledjian says she has her fingers crossed, hoping her community stays safe, while also hoping they help her show curious future citizens and scholars alike a hyper-local view on an unprecedented situation. 

“The ways in which we act and respond to the coronavirus,” she said, after all, “is history in the making.”