Voices of Migration Course Site

An Oral History Collective

Final Reflection

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.

Final Reflection

I truly cannot believe that I’m writing the final reflection for the course. This has been the most interesting learning experience that I’ve undergone throughout my four years of undergrad and that fact that it has come to an end is so surreal. This was such an important experience in terms of engaging with the community, gaining new skills in interview conduction and website development, and breaking out of my comfort zone and anxieties to produce something so unique and innovative.

Initially, the contract and project was focused exclusively on Mexican migration to the CSRA, however, after experiencing difficulties early on with finding interview participants, we decided to expand the scope of our project and contract to cover the more inclusive range of Latino migration. Unfortunately, broadening the scope alleviated very little of our troubles, and we struggled tremendously with the interview process, and were ultimately unable to collect the minimum requirement of four interviews. The public sentiment held in the region towards Latino migration is hostile, to put it mildly. We were naively optimistic, and we underestimated the implications of the project. Despite countless attempts at organizational and religious outreach, we were hindered by the lack of organizations and visibility in the area in addition to the extreme rise in anti-immigrant policies and sentiment from the local and state officials. Aside from census data, there is little research in regards to Latino migration to the area. This left us feeling somewhat in the dark at times, but overall we felt it pioneering to explore such a relatively unstudied subject.

I’m honestly so thankful that we got our two interviews. Gaining insight into the migration experience of a fellow USCA student was surreal and listening to her first-hand accounts on issues that I’ve learned about for years as a Sociology major truly opened my eyes to the importance of face-to-face conversations. I’m very much in a position of privilege, and while I can never truly empathize with Angelica, I can use her experiences to cultivate a more genuine and humanizing conception of social conditions. One can sit in a classroom and learn about the issues of social inequality, relative deprivation, and theories behind global social issues, but until engaging in personal discussions, you lack a necessary perspective; a perspective that is essential in the social sciences.

This was my first time conducting an interview and quite frankly, I was extremely nervous. I was also unbelievably anxious when it came to going out into the community and approaching strangers to speak about the project. However, this is perhaps the biggest takeaway from this course. It required me to engage in activities that the grips of my anxiety disorders would previously deter me from. I feel much more in control and less inhibited by my anxiety, and I cannot thank the course enough for allowing me to grow in this way.

In regards to website development and digital tools, I found a surprising amount of success! Our site utilized StoryMaps, ArcGIS maps, and Soundcloud. I was surprised by how how quickly I became proficient and enthralled with the technological aspect of this project. As an extremely indecisive person, I am typically overwhelmed when presented with a vast amount of customization options, however, I very much enjoyed the process of forming and manipulating site and tool design for this project. I particularly enjoyed the visual tools, such as ArcGIS maps, StoryMaps, and the customization of layout designs for WordPress. Our contract listed Timeline and SoundCite as an additional tool for our project, however, we struggled with identifying where to successfully incorporate the Timeline. As for SoundCite, we desperately and persistently tried to use this tool, but encountered technical issues with WordPress formatting that wouldn’t allow the clips to work properly in the text.  

Overall, this project was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my collegiate career. Without a doubt, it was the most unique and engaging course I’ve ever been a part of and I’m so thrilled to have undergone this process under the guidance of such passionate professors and with such a dynamic and brilliant group of students from across the country. Through the Voices of Migration course, I’ve loosened the tight grip of my personal anxieties while simultaneously gaining insight into the local Latino migrant community. We intend to keep the site running and to hopefully spark a much needed dialogue in the CSRA on the human experiences of migration.   


This is it! Wow. What a run. This final reflection about this project is a mixture of everything. A mixture of happiness that we have been able to make it to this point without loosing our sanity AND that we actually made a website! All in all it has been a learning experience. I have been able to expand my horizons in different ways of thinking, expressing and listening. I have definitely learned how to listen.

I throughly enjoyed being able to be part of this group. Different voices and stories had to be heard and I love that we, as a class, were able to do so. I have had a passsion for helping my migrate community. Through this project I have been able to let some voices heard. That is very important and necessary in the world of advocating.

I will try to continue adding more and more interviews to this site and keep it up to date. That way we can expand and not let these voices be a blimp of data in the internet.

Final Reflection/Reflexión final

Overall this course was a great opportunity for students to learn more about the migrant groups in their area. Migrants are a very important contribution to our country. The customs and culture they bring into their communities are great methods of changing previous thoughts and improving diversity.

For our website, we used WordPress, Creative Commons, Youtube, Garageband, and Wondershare Filmora. WordPress was an excellent way to present our data in a user-friendly way. Creative Commons was a useful source in finding photos for our website. Youtube helped us learn how to better use our WordPress site and programs like GarageBand for video editing. Garageband and Wondershare Filmora were both useful in editing our videos.

Apart from the technological aspect, we did encounter some issues when it came to the interviews. We originally wanted to interview migrant agricultural workers and contacted community leaders who work with these groups. However, due to the political climate, we were not able to find enough migrant workers who were willing to come forward with their stories. After a few weeks of struggling to find enough interviewees, we decided to change our group to focus on immigrants from Mexico, Central America, and South America. This allowed us to find more willing interviewees, but it did not fix all problems. Some of our interviewees changed their minds both before and after the interviews had been completed out of fear for their safety. We really saw how frightening every small thing, like signing a document, can be for our migrants.

I am glad to have been a part of a project that allowed for me to hear the stories of so many brave people.

En general, este curso fue una gran oportunidad para que los estudiantes aprendan más sobre los grupos migratorios en su área. Los migrantes son una contribución muy importante para nuestro país. Las costumbres y la cultura que traen a sus comunidades son grandes métodos para cambiar los pensamientos anteriores y mejorar la diversidad.

Para nuestro sitio web, utilizamos WordPress, Creative Commons, YouTube, GarageBand, y Wondershare Filmora. WordPress fue una excelente manera de presentar nuestros datos de una manera fácil de usar. Creative Commons fue una fuente útil en la búsqueda de fotos para nuestro sitio web. YouTube nos ayudó a aprender cómo utilizar mejor nuestro sitio de WordPress y programas como GarageBand para la edición de vídeo. GarageBand y Wondershare Filmora fueron útiles en la edición de nuestros vídeos.

Aparte del aspecto tecnológico, nos encontramos con algunos problemas cuando se trataba de las entrevistas. Originalmente queríamos entrevistar a los trabajadores agrícolas migrantes y contactar a los líderes comunitarios que trabajan con estos grupos. Sin embargo, debido al clima político, no pudimos encontrar suficientes trabajadores migrantes que estuvieran dispuestos a presentar sus historias. Después de unas semanas de lucha para encontrar suficientes entrevistados, decidimos cambiar nuestro grupo para centrarnos en los inmigrantes de México, Centroamérica y Sudamérica. Esto nos permitió encontrar a los entrevistados más dispuestos, pero no solucionó todos los problemas. Algunos de nuestros entrevistados cambiaron de opinión tanto antes como después de que las entrevistas se hubieran completado por miedo a su seguridad. Realmente vimos lo aterrador que cada pequeña cosa, como firmar un documento, puede ser para nuestros migrantes.

Me alegro de haber sido parte de un proyecto que me permitió escuchar las historias de tantas personas valientes.

Final Reflection

As I have hinted at previously in class, I deeply enjoy conducting interviews. They are an opportunity to hear another perspective at length, to give a voice to someone whose thoughts you are invested in hearing. They’re a chance to have an invigorating conversation in which you do as little of the talking as possible—a joy for an introvert like me.

Needless to say, then, conducting the oral history interviews was by far my favorite aspect of this course. To be able to listen intently to the stories, experiences, hopes, and ideas of two individuals the likes of whom I had never encountered before was simply awe-inspiring (and paid off in a practical way, too, when one of them invited me over for Easter dinner afterwards). I was better able to hone my skills as an interviewer in this process as I continually tested how to ask the right questions at the right times, and to otherwise simply allow the one speaking to do just that—speak.

Writing the narrative pages was my next most appreciated activity. While writing always involves some degree of interpretation, no matter how skilled the author, I nonetheless enjoyed the opportunity to, as objectively as possible, listen to the conversations I had over again and to select what seemed to me the most salient points—the highs and lows, the hopes, hindrances, and helps that my new friends experience in their lives in the United States. The “three H’s” around which we organized our narratives provided a fun storytelling tool while also permitting us to represent a broad range of what was said, from negative to positive, on a broad range of topics, from education and work to community building and the political situation of the DRC.

When it came to building the website, a few challenges arose that necessitated deviating from the original version of the contract. While we originally hoped to include an ArcGIS map, we quickly had to change from this course, as we learned that this is in fact not the same thing as a StoryMap, which is the format we had been hoping for. We were able to switch to this format, which Megan utilized with great success. Megan also compiled a phenomenal Google Slides presentation on the process behind the Diversity Visa.

I also used a Google Slides presentation to give a briefing on the relevant political and historical background of the DRC which is important for the viewer to keep in mind when listening to our population’s interviews. While we originally hoped to use VideoPad for this information, I quickly found that I had considerable difficulty working that software, due to the fact that I’ve not received formal instruction in it. Luckily, Professors Donaldson and Bettencourt talked us through this in our conference, where we decided that Google Slides would be the way to go.

In the end, I’m very glad for the local connections I built while working on this project. What I learned above all is that it takes intentional connections for a community to fully come together and integrate in solidarity, and in learning this, I was at the start of doing just that.


I honestly cannot believe that it is time to reflect upon my progression through the course Voices of Migration. Like so many college experiences prior, time seems to fly faster than I can manage. Nevertheless, listed below, please find my reflection on my project’s content, oral histories, and website design.

Regarding the topic of course (and the project), studying migration was a fascinating experience. In an academic manner, I learned many new aspects about migration. Whether it be describing the global challenges migrants face, explaining what it means to be a refugee, or discussing  the effects of transnational citizens on economic development, I feel that I have developed a robust vocabulary. Therefore, in an in-class sense, I gained new and valuable knowledge about an increasingly important international subject.

As for conducting my oral histories, I gained valuable understandings. Conducting an oral history interview is challenging. One must be flexible enough to go with the flow, but also stay structured enough in order to discuss the desired topic(s). I struggled with my first interview. The speaking style of my interviewee was rather short and concise; therefore, I had a difficult time thinking quickly on my feet to keep the conversation flowing. On the other hand, my second interviewee was rather talkative, moving from point to point on his own accord. I had an easier time directing his oration because I became more of a facilitator, rather than as the driving force. So, I now have a newfound respect for the work oral historians do.

In addition, I really appreciated conducting the oral histories for its personal research style. The research process was so alive, communicative, and emotional. While I love researching subjects which interest me, looking through history monographs and navigating through databases can become monotonous. An oral history, on the other hand, is an alive artifact. It needs both the interviewer and interviewee; without one, there is no final product. Working through the interview is an engaging exploration for both parties involved. This type of research was exciting and fun; I hope I can conduct more oral histories for future studies.

Finally, I thoroughly enjoyed creating/designing my own website. I had the autonomy and control to make a product and then actually publish it for the entire world to see. I was able to learn new skills regarding website design, digital tools, and up-keeping my own personal blog. These are adaptable skills with tangible results. I am very pleased with the knowledge gained through working with new technology.

Finally, I would like to acknowledge my appreciation for the inter-humanity/ interdisciplinary nature of this COPLACDigital course. I was engaged in history, sociology, technological studies, and even art design. These opportunities are reflective of the changing landscape of education and future employment opportunities. Learning how to think independently , work collaboratively, and live critically is the liberal arts philosophy.  Voices of Migration, in my opinion, perfectly encapsulated everything that I love about a liberal arts education.

Thank you to my professors, classmates, COPLAC associates, and MCLA faculty who made this wonderful opportunity available to me.  I truly believe this was one of the most educational, challenging, and rewarding academic experiences I have even been a part of.




Throughout this process it was hard to always know what you should be doing, saying, or asking.  When talking to Mana and Khadija I often found myself getting lost in their passion. I learned a lot about the different barriers out in front of migrant groups. Talking to these lovely people also seeded a devotion to being a better future educator than Mana and Khadija had when in high school.  Furthermore, after these interviews, I was really glad I had dedicated myself to this project. As Mana and Khadija said they really wanted people to have a conversation about things they might not be educated about, to better interact with the world and people around you, and that is just what this class is doing.  I will leave with this last sentiment. “The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know anything about.” -Wayne Dyer


As our project comes to an end, I’d like to use this post to review and reflect upon the website that Joe and I created.

One of the main goals for this project was to present both sides of the issue of immigration: the problems that the immigrants have and the problems that the locals have. The problems that the immigrants have were shown in the interviews, where each immigrant was asked what the Kirksville area could do to make life better. However, in the Story Map, I hoped to expose some of the difficulties that locals have had concerning the language and the cultural differences. In addition, the story map was also used to give a geographical perspective of both Northeast Missouri and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

We incorporated the themes of “Hope, Hinderance, and Help” in the narratives. Since we did not have the time to write out transcriptions for each interviewee, we created journalistic narratives to give an accessible background to viewers who are not able to listen to the full interview. We split each narrative up into four parts: Introduction and Experiences, Hope, Hindrance, and Help. We ended up added the first section after realizing that our interviewees had a lot of interesting things to say that didn’t necessarily fall into the other three categories.

Originally, we had planned to create a video to present our website and give a little bit of background on the DRC. However, Video Pad and other movie-making tools did not cooperate well with our types of computers. Therefore, we resorted to creating a powerpoint that the website visitor can click through in order to learn about the situation in the DRC. We also used a powerpoint to explain the Diversity Visa. Since learning about a very legal aspect of immigration can be overwhelming, I broke it up into slides and added transitions. I also tried to involve the viewer by presenting some information in a second person format. For example: Would you qualify for the Diversity lottery?

As for the language settings on the website, I felt uncomfortable turning in the website with only half of it translated into French. As a result, I decided to disable the translation plug-in for now. In the future, I hope to take extra time to create more quality translations that I can publish throughout the entire website. This way, a French speaker will not be confused when only the titles and not the content are translated into French.

After completing this project, I feel much more thankful. As Truman is a very liberal campus, students often focus on all the things that are wrong in the United States. However, we often forget to acknowledge that some of the rights and services we have here are beneficial, like freedom of speech and free primary and secondary education. I am also inspired to improve my interview skills by incorporating better reactions and following up with more insightful questions.

Overall, I feel like this was a good first oral history project. However, I feel that I can improve the skills I’ve gained by continuing to keep up this website and use other digital tools in the future.

Review of course blogs/Revisión de los blogs del curso

This week I reviewed two of my classmate’s project blogs.

The first website I reviewed was Morrison and Ryan’s blog about their local Greek community. I liked how the first oral history included audio clips of the interviewee within the text, as well as how the full interviews were included at the bottom of the pages. The Greek Flag header at the top of the page is also an excellent example of supporting media. I think the oral histories pages should include some photos if possible.  The website was very easy to navigate. I can’t wait to see it at the end!

Site found here: http://migration.coplacdigital.org/mcla/

The second website I reviewed was Joe and Megan’s blog about their local Congolese community. I think this site has a lot of great supporting media (such as photos and an interactive map). Good job!

Site found here: http://migration.coplacdigital.org/truman/

Este semana, revisé 2 de los blogs de proyecto de mis compañeros de clase.

El primer sitio web que revisé fue el blog de Morrison y Ryan sobre su comunidad griega local. Me gustó que la primera historia oral incluyó clips de audio del entrevistado dentro del texto, así como cómo las entrevistas completas se incluyeron al final de las páginas. El encabezado de la bandera griega en la parte superior de la página es un excelente ejemplo de soporte multimedia también. Creo que las páginas de historias orales deben incluir algunas fotos si es posible.  El sitio web es muy fácil de navegar.  ¡No puedo esperar a verlo al final!

El sitio web aquí: http://migration.coplacdigital.org/mcla/

El segundo sitio web que revisé fue el blog de Joe y Megan sobre su comunidad congoleño local. Creo que este sitio tiene muchos buenos medios de apoyo (como fotos y un mapa interactivo) ¡Buen trabajo!

El sitio web aquí: http://migration.coplacdigital.org/truman/

Project Site Reviews

Merging Cultures: The Congo in Kirksville



Joe and Megan! Your groups’ project site is spectacular! I’m blown away by how professional and engaging the site is. It’s well-organized, easy to navigate, the color scheme is easy on the eyes, and the minimal layout really enhances your content. I especially love the setup of the photography page and the immersive StoryMap. My only advice would to be to present the oral histories as more of a narrative. Rather than offer just a few sentences about the individual to go with the full audio recording, perhaps you could provide more insightful descriptions about their experiences, offer context and emotion, and emphasize the pivotal aspects of their narrative. Y’all have done such an impressive job with this project and I’m so excited to see your final project!





I love how welcoming your groups’ project site is! Your enthusiasm and passion for the project is evident through your text, and that really creates an inviting page presence. The site’s header image is captivating as well, and effectively works to grab the user’s attention. Your menus are well organized, the pages are easily accessible, and the oral history is successfully presented as an immersive, engaging, and personal narrative. My only advice would be to add more contextual features (photos, a StoryMap, etc) to provide insight into the region and to compliment the individual’s journey from Greece to Massachusetts.  Morrison and Ryan, I absolutely cannot wait to see your final project!

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