Seven hundred years ago, the menace of the Black Death loomed over Europe and the world. To escape the plague, or so the tale goes, a group of ten young Italians hid in a villa outside of Florence. And to pass the time, they told stories. Their stories, of wit and will, of life and death, of love and betrayal — themes as diverse as humanity itself — would become Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron.
We now find ourselves in a similar moment: the coronavirus pandemic has shuttered vast arenas of life and many of us find ourselves at home, isolated, worried, and bored. And, as the nation closes its schools, we face a crisis not only of health, but also of education. For too many students, the disruption may be insurmountable.
In this extraordinary context, The Decameron Project believes that students across the country should have their voices heard, and that in the thick of crisis, they can still strive for creative excellence and recognition through storytelling. Just as, seven centuries ago, those young Florentines confronted disease and death by telling tales, we at The Decameron Project seek to do the same: to unite young readers and writers, and to encourage their creation of meaningful, enduring work in the face of hardship.