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Homesick Project aims to study the experience of immigrants with “home” during Covid-19

(Photo courtesy of Homesick Project Instagram) “Home means something different to everyone.”

Kayla Jewett
Connector Editor

How do people, especially immigrants, live, express and relate to the experience of lockdowns, border closures and social isolation during the pandemic? The #homesick project aims to give immigrants a space to share their experience of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The #homesick project is an interdisciplinary digital humanities project led by Dr. Mercédès Baillargeon (associate professor of French and Francophone Studies, UMass Lowell) in collaboration with Christina Getrich (associate professor Anthropology, University of Maryland) and Trevor Muñoz (director of the Maryland Institute of Technology in the Humanities). People who are born outside of the U.S. and spent the pandemic here are invited to share about their experience on social media using the hashtag #homesickumduml.  

The project’s objective is to three-fold; to document and analyze the experience of immigrants during the COVID-19 pandemic; to create visibility around the experience and to create an online community so that people can feel less isolated with their experience. 

The leader of the project, Dr. Mercédès Baillargeon says, “I’m an immigrant myself (from Canada and came to the U.S. as a graduate student), so I can say with certainty that the experience of the pandemic for immigrants (not only for recent immigrants, but even for people who have been here a long time) was unique and presented its own challenges. Before the pandemic, we had the impression that the world had gotten quite small over the last few decades and that, if something were to happen to say, our parents, we could jump back on a plane and go home, and the pandemic really changed that perception. I also know that each immigrant’s story is unique, so I want the project to be able to reflect the diversity of these narratives. Immigrants are often vilified or made invisible on the media, so I want for us, as immigrants, to be able to have our own voice and to create a kind of digital mosaic of our experiences.”  

The team encourages people to visit their social media and contribute to their research by submitting something about their own experience. T. Lima, an immigrant who shared their experience through this project, quoted, “For the first time, they were experiencing what we as migrants know so well: the uneasy feeling of being separated from family and friends, unable to get close to them, to touch, to be together. When people ask me how I felt being far away from my country during the pandemic, I say that, strangely, I felt the world finally comprehended me.”  

By deciding to contribute, you will be asked if you want to submit your contact information for a follow-up interview. After analyzing the submission and social media content, the team will follow-up with a second phase of the project, which will aim on gaining further insight into patterns, key themes, emotions and participants’ singular experiences (with the platform, technology, and the pandemic), but which will also allow them to gain further insight into sociodemographic data (legal status, country of origin, ethnicity, age, level of education, employment status etc.) to cross this information and create segments to better understand people’s backgrounds. All of this will be done following strict IRB protocols and respecting participants’ confidentiality.  

The #Homesick project is the first stage of a multi-level project, which aims to document and analyze the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic for immigrants to the U.S. Using the project’s hashtag (#homesickumduml) on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Tik Tok) or by submitting directly to their website, they invite participants who were born outside of the U.S. and lived in the U.S. during the pandemic to share their insight and experience about border closures, travel restrictions, quarantines, racism and homesickness during the pandemic. You are able to post a testimonial photo, video, song, poem or anything you would like. With this research, they hope to learn specifically about the experience of immigrants during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can learn more about the project and research team at  

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