Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Tales from the Pandemic: Harrisburg University captures a unique time in our history

The front entrance to Harrisburg University on Market Street

Some days, it feels like we are frozen in time, each day blending with the last.

But the COVID-19 pandemic is actively making history, and Harrisburg University hopes to preserve a piece of it.

“This is an opportunity to share stories,” said Glenn Williams, professor of advanced manufacturing, augmented reality and robotics. “Since we are a community at HU, we should share ours.”

The university, with Williams taking the lead, launched “HU Stories: Facing the 2020 Pandemic Together” last week. The project will collect reflections from students, faculty, staff, donors and others who consider themselves part of the HU community.

Reflections on these lived experiences can take the form of the written word, photography, videography, song, art, etc. Once submitted to the school, they will be published to HU’s website and social media channels.

“By sharing, you realize you aren’t doing this by yourself,” HU President Eric Darr said.

Williams recognized that the university’s specialization in science and technology may cause people to see the intellectual side of the students over the emotional side.

“What hit me was the personal side of [the pandemic], the impact on people,” he said. “It made me realize HU is a science school, but people have feelings.”

The school will compile the submissions into a digital and perhaps physical book to keep as a time capsule. Williams hopes that, in years to come, people will look back on the stories and get a glimpse of what it was like to live through the pandemic.

The “HU Stories” project is just one way the university is trying to help students navigate life during the crisis.

Williams explained that much of his inspiration for the project came from Darr’s discussion about what HU was already doing to support students. Darr mentioned that the school provided housing, food and health services for students even after HU closed its campus.

“We recognize this is and continues to be a stressful time for all of us,” Darr said.

From the HU students to the custodians to the president, everyone is affected by the pandemic, and Williams hopes this project will provide a release.

“These stories should be captured so they can be documented,” he said. “Their experiences 50 to 100 years from now can be shared and read.”

The submission form for the “HU Stories” project can be found here. For more information, visit Harrisburg University’s website.

Continue Reading