Diavanni is one of hundreds of San Diegans to share her story of life during the pandemic. Courtesy of San Diego History Center

For Diavanni, a 9-year-old living in southeast San Diego, the pandemic meant more changes after she had already been dealt with difficult cards.

“My mom passed away on Labor Day 2018,” Diavanni wrote. “I now live with my grandparents. I was just getting settled from my mom being gone and all the new things… then coronavirus comes.”

Diavanni’s story is just one of 400 that have been received by the San Diego History Center since it launched its project, “History Happening Now: Share Your Story,” an effort to chronicle the lives of San Diegans as they live through the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic.

Shelby Gordon, marketing manager at the San Diego History Center, said the idea of the project sparked when Bill Lawrence, CEO and president of the Center, sent out a message encouraging people to reflect on their personal experiences during this time.

“To date, we’ve received close to 400 COVID-19- related submissions including written, video, and audio stories. Artwork, poetry, diaries have also been submitted,” Gordon said.

Gordon said the hundreds of submissions share a common thread, including that the pandemic was a life-changing event that all have never experienced before. People have also had to make adjustments, a commitment to safety mandates and a great appreciation for essential and health care workers. Of course, people also miss their lives pre-COVID, Gordon said.

“What we discovered was while we did have historic photos of the 1918 Flu Pandemic, there is very little written documentation from San Diegans during that crisis,” Gordon said. “Our organization has been entrusted to preserve, reveal, promote and celebrate the history of our region – what makes San Diego unique.”

Gordon said submissions will be “categorized and archived in the permanent collection of the San Diego History Center.”

From this project, Gordon said the Center has been compelled to expand on user-generated content. They’ll solicit content in the future for other “key local and social justice issues,” Gordon said.

“We’d like for San Diegans to recognize the San Diego History Center as an organization that is listening, documenting, reflecting and facilitating conversations that impact their lives – now through the pandemic and in the future,” Gordon said. “This opportunity has launched many conversations with individuals and audiences – throughout the San Diego County region – that we wanted to (needed to) join with as partners.”

For more information about the “History Happening Now” project or the San Diego History Center, go to sandiegohistory.org.

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