WE-Hope, Our Memories and Covid-19

Can we work on memories and Oral History IN the Covid19 era? Yes we can... And even more, what we can do is to work on memories and Oral History ON the Covid19 era.


Oral History enables people to share life experiences with their own voices and in their own words, bringing an added value to their memories that become a common identity heritage for our society. Oral history does not replace or disprove official document-based history, but it complements it by providing resources and life references that fill the gaps.


Can we contribute today to fill the gaps of the document-based history of tomorrow, that is nothing but our present? And if I ask you to choose a word for our present, our 2020, would Covid be a potential choice?


In the last months, the consortium partners of the EU funded project WE-HOPE - Out of the crisis experiences, hope for the future have questioned themselves about the necessity to make the best of this new Covid and post Covid scenario, for an effective and impactful implementation of the project.


In fact, WE-Hope is a project aiming at connecting people through memories and experiences of migration and surviving the trauma of war, in Europe and beyond its borders: we will use heritage, art and technology to celebrate our common values. We will collect oral history testimonies to enrich the pool of shared materials made available through our project in order to better understand our society also thanks to people's life experiences.

So, can we still implement it these days? Yes we can, but we should also reshape our approach to be impactful.


Plan-b by Nick Youngson

What is the main reason to start this rethinking process? If from one side we all wanted to increase the relevance of the project to such an extraordinary period we are going through, from the other side we should face the logistic and practical obstacle of having reduced access to the ‘’living testimonies’’ able to narrate and share with us memories from migration and from the second World War period, limited by social distancing during the lockdown. Moreover, due to their age, we should be careful not to put their health at risk by organising face-to-face interviewing sessions.

For this reason we have decided to bring the Covid into the project, not under its contagious nature but exploiting its potential for memories. How resilient we and our communities are in responding to this new crisis? What are the common aspects between this new crisis and other past crises our societies went through? These and several other questions will lead our implementation.


And if, as they say, Life is all about how you handle plan B, well WE-HOPE is all about bringing plan B into plan A to deliver a relevant and impactful project that will enrich our common treasure of life experiences for going out of any crisis.


Marina Sarli - The Greek Bank of Memories



Alors, pouvons-nous toujours le mettre en œuvre à l'heure actuelle ? Oui, nous le pouvons, mais nous devons également remodeler notre approche pour que celle-ci ait plus d'impact.


Quelle est la principale raison de cette reconfiguration du projet ? D'une part nous voulions tous accroître la pertinence du projet dans une période aussi extraordinaire que celle que nous traversons, et d'autre part, nous devions faire face à l'obstacle logistique et pratique d'avoir un accès réduit aux "témoignages vivants", capables de raconter et partager avec nous des souvenirs de la migration et de la seconde guerre mondiale, limités par la distance sociale pendant le verrouillage. De plus, en raison de leur âge, nous devons veiller à ne pas mettre leur santé en danger en organisant des entretiens en face à face.


C'est pour cette raison que nous avons décidé de faire "entrer" le Covid dans le projet, non pas dans sa nature contagieuse, mais en exploitant son potentiel de mémoire. Dans quelle mesure nous et nos communautés sommes-nous résilients face à cette nouvelle crise? Quels sont les aspects communs entre cette nouvelle crise et les autres crises passées que nos sociétés ont traversées? Ces questions et plusieurs autres guideront notre mise en œuvre.


Marina Sarli - The Greek Bank of Memories