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'We started getting diary entries immediately' MI Diaries project helps Spartans heal through audio diaries

MI Diaries
Posted at 4:44 PM, Feb 13, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-13 16:44:20-05
  • Video explains how the MI Diaries Project helped those in the community heal following the tragedy that struck Michigan State University on Feb 13.
  • The MI Diaries Project was created to document the changes to people's lives and languages during the pandemic.
  • The project showcases weekly stories, but when major events happen, special collections are created.
  • For more information on how you can share your story, click here.

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

A research project that was created at Michigan State University to document the changes to people's lives during the pandemic using audio diaries has grown into something so much more.

Following the violence that took place on campus, the MI Diaries Project became a safe space where people shared their feelings or experiences with the tragedy.

"I kind of expected that if something big happened, we would probably create a special collection on it. I just never imagined that it would actually happen to our university," said senior Annabelle McClanahan.

MSU February 13 is now a special collection that lives on the MI Diaries Project website, containing audio diaries documenting the feelings and experiences people had related to the violence.

"We started getting diary entries, immediately, like the night of from diarists across the state, kind of sharing their well wishes and their horror," said assistant linguistics professor Betsy Sneller.

"All night, I could just hear the sirens, and I could hear the helicopters flying overhead," said one diarist emotionally.

"There were some stories from people on campus who felt like survivors' guilt and felt guilty that they survived this, even though none of us knew. But a lot of people shared, like their fears, or their anger or their sadness," McClanahan said.

As the year went on, the team witnessed the community start to heal as the entries started to drift away from the violence.

"It's been remarkable to me, especially looking at our students to see how they have overcome the incredibly hard events of last spring," said Associate Professor of Linguistics Suzanne Wagner.

A year later, some of the diaries on the website now include reflections of feelings and How things are going on campus
"For the most part, I think things have kind of gone back to normal," one diarist said while reflecting.

And what might someone be doing on the anniversary?

"I'm going home 'cause, you know, as much as I love the community here, mentally, I'm at that point where I know I'll need a break," one diarist said.

They say time heals all wounds.

And as the anniversary comes and goes, the MI Diaries Project is hoping to continue to be a part of the healing process for the spartan community.

"It's not a mental health-oriented project. We're just people that have a way to let people talk about things and tell their stories if they want to," Sneller said.

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