Significant Events: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the most severe crises in scale and impact the world has experienced in living memory. It is arguably the largest and most complex challenge that independent Singapore has faced. What began as a medical and healthcare problem has spilled over into the economy at large, disrupting sectors such as the aviation industry, tourism, transport, food and beverage, retail, entertainment and the arts, and more. More fundamentally, the pandemic has changed the way we socialise – at work, home, school and play. Social distancing measures, work-from-home directives, home-based learning and #stayhome initiatives have radically transformed the way we interact with family, friends, fellow students, colleagues, neighbours and strangers; what we may have considered “normal” life at the start of 2020 has become an anachronism. These changes have brought about psychological stress in individuals, and the new social and economic arrangements, alongside the great reduction in (outdoor) social activity and interaction, have triggered in many a re-evaluation of life goals and values.
This two-year oral history project was initiated in 2020 and aims to record, through oral history methodology, the behind-the-scenes details, experiences, emotions and reflections of a wide array of respondents from government officials and healthcare workers, to businesses and members of the community.
Owing to the scale and scope of the project, oral history interviews will be conducted by Oral History Centre staff and trained volunteers, the latter who underwent training to conduct remote oral history interviews using video conferencing software. This is the first time that the centre is conducting remote interviews, and this approach is in itself a reflection of the impact of COVID-19 on the change in work processes.