An Oral History Collective

Month: March 2018 (Page 1 of 4)

Website reflection

We’ve made forays into developing StoryMaps to represent the Congo—this has largely been done by Megan. For my part, I’ve begun reading up on the DRC via the BBC’s extremely useful country profile coverage and asked a professor who spent time living there for her resources. I hope to compile the essentials into a short introductory video to be posted on the website. These will give viewers a variety of ways to become familiar with the background information of our community.

The main thing I hope for the website is visuals on the Congolese community. Two sources are available for this: photos from parts of their lives around here (such as English class or the grocery store) as well as their own photos. These, I feel, will give our materials a much greater depth than they would otherwise have.

Research on Somalia and Immigrants of Maine

When people think of immigration into the US, Maine is not a destination that really ever comes to mind. That is because since the days of European settlement, Maine has been one of the whitest states in the country. The very rural nature of the state has not attracted a lot of diverse newcomers in the past. From 2000-2011, however, the there was a 19.6% increase of foreign-born residents (Jalali), and a huge part of that influx was into the Lewiston/Auburn area. As of last year there had been over 7,500 immigrants to Lewiston since 2001, a large portion of them from Somalia.

In the 1990s Somalia was thrown into a civil war and many Somali people fled to the US. A few refugees that were trying to settle in Portland found much more affordable housing in Lewiston which was going through a tough economic time (Kastanis). There had been major cutbacks and closures in the different mills and businesses in the town and the population was decreasing leading up to this. As refuges settled there, they shared the opportunity in Lewiston with friends and family creating a sort of ripple affect in the town. It even reinvigorated the economy as the new residents began opening businesses in the previously vacant stores.



Jalali, Reza. “400 Years of New Mainers”. Maine Memory

Kastanis, Angeliki. “Maine Community Has Refugees and Resentment.” U.S. News & World Report, 19 Apr. 2017,

A Real Update

Coming back from break has been a bit of a struggle, but now that I’m more into the swing of things, I’ve been finding it more and more necessary to focus on the website.

Although for a while we have had a list of people we thought we could interview, some who agreed to be a part of it, keeping in contact prove to be difficult. For us college students, emails seem to work wonderfully, but emails are not always the main means of communication for our interviewees. Joe has had some success in getting responses, but I’m back to thinking of more creative ways to contact people. I was hoping to catch them in English class, but unfortunately, attendance isn’t always consistent. I’ve found that numerous messages on Facebook seems to be effective.

In the meantime, I need to focus on the research aspect, something I can do without the interviewees. This week, I’m hoping to really dig deep and determine what should go on our website. After finding that information, Joe and I will be able to determine for sure what tools can be used to best present that information.

Nevertheless, I do believe the project is going fairly well, although I am definetely stressed about some parts of it (like contacting the interviewees). I hope everything will work out in the end. 🙂

Update/Las Ultimas Noticias

Cristal and I plan to conduct interviews this upcoming week. Finding migrant workers who are willing to be interviewed has been difficult considering the current political climate in the US. During this time, we are researching laws about agriculture in the US so we can provide that information on our website.

Cristal y yo planeamos realizar entrevistas esta próxima semana. Encontrar trabajadores migrantes que estén dispuestos a ser entrevistados ha sido difícil teniendo en cuenta el clima político actual en los Estados Unidos. Durante este tiempo, estamos investigando las leyes sobre la agricultura en los Estados Unidos para que podamos proporcionar esa información en nuestro sitio web.

Project Update (3/25)

Another week, another blog post! While the ball has begun to roll, Ryan and I are still waiting on our contacts to get back to us so we can schedule interviews. However, we have accomplished a significant amount since coming back from school break. Please keep reading to learn more about the project’s progress, challenges, digital tools, and weekly schedule.

As for progress on our oral histories, Ryan had a meeting with the Berkshire Immigrant Center, where he was presented with a number of actual contacts in which to interview. He is currently waiting to hear back from those recommended contacts. Myself, on the other hand, am still waiting to hear from St. George’s Greek Orthodox Church. I emailed the church office last Tuesday and decided, if I do not hear anything back by this Tuesday, I will reach out to the priest of the church (whose contact information is listed directly underneath the office’s on the website). I hope I do not come across as desperate or overly-persistent, but I believe this is too good of a contact to give up on. Fingers crossed that, for next week’s blog post, I will have more to report on the oral history aspect of the project.

Regarding the website’s progression, we now have picked a theme, preliminary color scheme, set of widgets, heading picture, and organizational style. In other words, the layout of the site has been changed and updated. Ryan and I plan to continue developing the website this week. Speaking of which, I am pleased with the collaborative nature of the project. I believe Ryan and I are doing a nice job communicating with each other, while at the same time taking responsibility for what we each need to get done individually. Earlier this evening, we meet for our weekly project meeting and discussed project logistics, milestones, and upcoming goals.

The most direct and obvious challenge is working with our contacts, who have been taking their time in getting back to us. This is particularly worrisome because, if they refuse our interview offer, we have even less time to find new people/organizations to reach out to. It is comforting to know that our group is not the only one with these problems; however, I grow more stressed each day we hear nothing. That being said, I am confident we will have at least one interview completed by the end of the week!

Ryan and I have not started working with any digital tools, yet. Nonetheless, we plan to work with a number of digital tools by the end of the week. I will focus on using Timeline JS to help visualize the historical context of Greek migration to the United States. Ryan will work with the ARC GIS Story Map technology to convey the imagery of migration from Greece to the United States. We are both excited to get our hands on these digital tools and to prepare them for use on the final project website.

Here is my weekly schedule:

By Tuesday:

  • Reach out to St. George’s Church, again
  • Update the ‘About Me’ section in the project website
  • Download Audacity and setup a Soundcloud account
  • Keep up with class assignments

By Thursday:

  • Finish creating the Timeline JS digital tool/add it to the Greek Migration Context page on the website
  • Add information to the ‘About Me’ page
  • Hopefully, schedule/conduct at least one interview
  • Keep up with class assignments




Blog Post #5

Since Thursday, Jacob and I have made relatively significant progress in scoping out the purview of our project. We’ve decided to broaden our focus from Mexican migration to Latin American migration, as we didn’t want the specificity to hinder any prospective interviewees.  We spoke with our campus’s research archivist and set up an appointment for Tuesday to go through the government data collections archive. We plan on pouring through data from sources like the U.S. Census Bureau, as well as the Department of Labor, to gain further insight into the Latin American presence within the CSRA since the 1980’s.

In terms of audio and digital tools, Jacob has been gathering and testing his personal recording devices, and is in the process of identifying the tools made available through our university. Meanwhile, I’ve been toying around with various digital tools, specifically StoryMaps and Timeline, to get a feel for the most effective ways to project our communities’ oral histories. StoryMaps feels much more effective now that we’ve expanded our scope from strictly the city of Aiken to the entire Central Savannah River Area, which consists of thirteen counties spanning across the border of South Carolina and Georgia. Gathering perspectives from both states is definitely going to add an interesting element, so I’m very eager to bring that to fruition.

As far as working towards the interviewing process, we’ve been able to identify a specific location to seek out potential interviewees. I’ve also reached out to a leader of The Asociación Cultural Hispanoamericana de la CSRA for a possible interview later this week, and am anxiously awaiting her response. Fingers crossed. Honestly, I’m extremely nervous about the nearing endeavor of conducting an interview, but, I’m trying to perceive it as an opportunity for me to overcome my anxieties. Again y’all, fingers crossed.

Project Update

Hi everybody,

At the moment we are waiting to hear back from our contacts as we search for prospective interviewees!  I met with people from the Berkshire Immigrant Center to find out if they have any Greek clients in the area who might be interested in partaking in this project.  A woman who works at the center is good friends with a woman from Greece who lives in the county, and she is sure that her friend will be enthusiastic about being interviewed, so she sent her my contact information.  I hope to hear back within the next few days! Over email, the woman from the Immigrant Center also made me aware of a local pizza restaurant that is owned by Greek immigrants, so I will be reaching out to them within the next day as well.  Mo reached out to a local Greek Orthodox Church, and he is also awaiting a response.  Our hope is to each have at least 1-2 interviews completed by the end of the week.

In terms of digital tools, this week we will be working on a digital timeline of Greek migration trends and their causes.  We will also be working on an ArcGIS Map of the locations within Greece and the United States that are connected with these migration trends and historical events.  These tools will give great visual context for the narratives that we collect over the next few weeks.  This is an exciting time, as we should be able to set up and conduct interviews in the coming days with people who have incredible stories of migration to share!

Making New Connections

Our project has been developing in many different categories. I have made a new connection with one of my peers on campus that is working to help find people I could interview. She has been reaching out to people in her community and I am waiting to hear back from her. I am also working on scheduling a time to sit down and interview her.

We have also been working on promoting our project. Christa and I have submitted our abstract to our campus faculty member in charge of symposium submissions. This will help us to get our project seen by many of our peers and faculty members.

Christa and I have also been doing a bit more research about the Somali community in Lewiston/Auburn.

Immigration Panel

The other week at my university there was a very timely event. As I was getting ready to contact organizations that work with immigrants in Maine, I got an email about a panel that UMF’s International and Global Studies Program was hosting. There was four women that came to talk about immigration in Maine in the context of current political changes. Each of the women work with immigrants in different capacities. Unfortunately, I was late due to a class and did not hear everything they said when introducing themselves, but I was able to gather some of the information.

The first woman, Julia, works with the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project. They are a  group in Maine that work to provide free or low-cost immigration information and legal assistance to low-income Maine residents.

Next was Mufalo, who is the executive director of Maine Immigrant’s Rights Coalition. This group is a collection of leaders that work to enhance the lives of immigrants and in the same stroke Maine communities. They do that through advocacy and direct service programs across the state.

Fowsia works with Maine Community Integration, which is a non-profit organization that strives to increase the opportunities for integration and collaboration for immigrants in Maine. They do that through education and advocacy as well as creating meaningful cultural celebrations for the new Mainers.

Lastly, Fatuma of the Immigrant Resource Center of Maine spoke. This is a group that started to help immigrant women and children in cases of domestic violence, but has expanded to provide more holistic help to women and children.

I heard the most from Fatuma and she was a very lively and captivating speaker. She spoke about the trainings that her group does to educate police officers and other state workers who work with or around immigrants. She truly wanted them to be more educated and to come away with a deeper understanding of how they can more effectively reach immigrant communities in a positive way. I can tell from the stories she told, Fatuma does not let people continue walking around with their false assumptions about the people she works with. I was even able to introduce myself after the discussion ended. Like I said the timing was perfect because she was a person I had been intending to contact to help us with this project. I believe she will be a very useful contact to have and interesting person to know.


We have been running into a few problems about finding people willing to be interviewed. However, we are now thinking about expanding our migrante community. Our agriculture migrants have been dear to us and we definitely did not want to change that. However, it has come down to it and I think we must make this transition. Doing so, however, I believe that we might have some interviews lined up with people that we know. Let’s hope for the best!

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