This project has been a very worthwhile experience. I think it has given me some practical academic skills specifically dealing with digital tools and creating a website. I think what I learned largely came from failure and not accomplishing what I wanted to. I really wanted to make the pages of each oral history really dynamic and interactive, but what I ended up with was rather plain. What I learned is how time consuming organizing a site can be and because I focused on that I wasn’t left with as much time for creating cool media for the pages. I also have a new appreciation for websites that are user friendly and accessible because making sure that happens requires the creators of a site to look at it through a whole new set of eyes.
I am also really glad that I was able to interact with the subject matter that I did. Learning about the history of a city and immigration movement was so interesting. The journeys that Lewiston and the people who live there have experienced are so dynamic. To not just read about the history, but go interact with it, hear it from people that were there was a process that was fully captivating to me. I know it definitely allowed me to understand and remember what happened much more. I am glad for my own sake because knowing about this migration wave diversifies my knowledge about my home state. I am also glad for the sake of my future students. After completing this kind of project I would much sooner assign something similar to my future students than to have them write an essay. Having to speak with people about what you are learning about pushes students to understand more deeply. Interviews can be an asset in any type of classroom and I can’t wait to do that in my own classroom.
The last thing that this project gave me was a deeper desire to be involved in my local community. The women that I talked to both work with a nonprofit organization that help the immigrants in Maine. They expressed a huge appreciation for their community and how welcoming it has been, but they both saw ways that their community could be improved as well. They also go beyond talking about the problems they see and they do the little they can each day to educate people and speak out for the improvements they want to see. There is action behind their words and it is very inspiring. I was able to investigate the people making a difference in another community and I want to do that again in my own sphere and get involved with what I find. My life was certainly improved from meeting Fatuma and Bright and I owe that to this project which has probably been one of the most impacting academic works I have completed to date.