Over the course of their first semester at St. Lawrence, Amy Francesconi ’24 and Ben Lloyd ’24 have immersed themselves in the fabric of their new home in the North Country. Through their First-Year Program, they’ve become citizen folklorists while interviewing and documenting the experiences of their neighbors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I'm a newcomer to the community, and I didn't realize how tightly knit it was,” Amy says. “And I definitely want to get more involved with the North Country community. I know I'm going to be spending the next four years here learning, so I want to give back in some way.”
Amy and Ben were both students in Assistant Professor of History and African Studies Rosa Williams’ First-Year Program (FYP), “Health Activism: Fighting for a Healthier Future.” Their final project focused on preserving local perspectives for “Get the Folk Through It,” a pandemic documentation project by the Traditional Arts in Upstate New York (TAUNY).
“Not only have students learned from this experience, but their efforts will meaningfully contribute to the work of TAUNY. The interviews they have recorded will be a part of the TAUNY archive, and future researchers will be using the guidance materials they’ve produced,” says Williams.
Williams’ FYP was also a Community-Based Learning (CBL) course, which typically involves students working closely and fostering connections with individuals and organizations in the North Country in ways that complement their curriculum. Williams collaborated with Adjunct Assistant Professor and TAUNY Director of Research and Programs Camilla Ammirati to ensure their students could safely continue this academic tradition despite the COVID-19 pandemic.