In the days and weeks following Harvard University’s decision to send students home for the rest of the spring term, it seemed to Katherine Lou ’21 and her friends that nearly every email they received in their school inboxes contained another blow to their spirits.
“We were really frustrated that the phrase, ‘dear members of the Harvard community,’ had almost become a preamble for bad news. It seemed like the only thing connecting people across Harvard were these bad news emails,” said Lou, a sociology concentrator pursuing a computer science secondary at the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. “So we were really interested in finding innovative ways to build community right now, and in the future.”
So Lou, government concentrator Lara Teich ’21, integrative biology concentrator Sophie Webster ’21, and applied math concentrator Vicky Xu ’20 launched Dear Harvard, a website that enables members of the Harvard community to create and share virtual postcards.
To create a card, users either upload an image or browse the Dear Harvard photo library and then type a short message (500 characters or less) that is inscribed on the card’s back. They can also sign the postcard, add tags and social media links, and include their current location.
Messages can take any form — an emotional reflection on pandemic life, a funny anecdote about social distancing, or words of gratitude for the essential workers who are taking on extra risks to keep everyone safe.