An Oral History Collective

Month: April 2018 (Page 1 of 3)

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:

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:

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:

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:

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!

Reviewing Classmates’ Projects

My reviews for the ‘Latino Migration in the Central Savannah River Area’ and ‘Merging Cultures: The Congo in Kirksville’ may be found below. Each of my reviews is based on the final website project rubric, outlined in the Voices of Migration project guidelines. If a project did not meet anyone of the rubric categories, I left that category out of my review.

Review of Latino Migration in the Central Savannah River Area

Context: I think the ‘About the Project’ page is excellent. It provides context for users to base their impressions on the who, what, where, why, and how of the project. I love the digital mapping tool for your page on the CSRA; however, time permitting, perhaps you could insert a little more information about the area (population demographics, main sources of economic revenue, etc.). Another suggestion would be to add in a context page exploring why there are migrants in the CSRA in the first place (economic factors, historic migration, etc.). Finally, I think there could be a more effective integration of the digital tools with the rest of the context. Currently, I feel that the digital tools are a little disjointed but  a slight rearrangement would be a quick solution.

Oral Histories: From the narrative about Angelica, it seems that the oral history interview was a success! Perhaps it was not posted yet, but I could not find the actual oral history digital file to listen to.

Narratives: I think the narrative on Angelica’s story is fantastic. Her story is told in a compelling, interesting, and thought-provoking manner.  Excellent work!

Website Design: I think the website design is effective and easy to navigate. Further, I think the heading photograph sets the tone of the project well.

Language and Editing: I think the language/writing style used in the project website is appropriate and effective for conveying the desired tone.

Overall, once the missing pieces are put into place, you will have created a thoughtful, well-developed, and complete final project. I look forward to seeing your finished  work!

Review of Merging Cultures: The Congo in Kirksville

Context: I think the ‘About This Project’ tab provides sufficient background information on the project. This information can be used to give users a foundation on which to base their experiences while navigating through the site. I love the context given on the actual geographical locations both in the Congo and in Missouri. This really inserts Kirksville into the project and gives it an added layer aside from the oral histories. Finally, the digital tools are well integrated into the  site and make your project more engaging. Wonderful context!

Oral Histories: I think the oral histories are well conducted. I believe they cover a wide range of discussion topics and points of view. Nice interviews!

Narratives: I am sure this is already being worked on, but there needs to be an added narrative for each oral history. Based on the work already produced and the context obtained, I have no doubt that the narratives will be rich, complete, and effective at delivering the desired tone.

Digital Recordings: To me, you have conducted solid interviews. Nice work.

Resources and Documentation: Present and accounted for.

Website Design: I think you have designed an easy to navigate and effective website. From the digital tools to the organization, I was never once confused while searching through the site. Further, I think the photo gallery is an excellent addition to the project. It adds a personal and visual dimension that I believe other projects are missing.

Language and Editing: Solid language and editing. I found the word choice to be effective at delivering the desired tone.

Overall, I think you have crafted an excellent website with some well-developed content. Once you add in some oral history narratives, you will have a complete and polished final project. Great work!

Project Site Reviews

Merging Cultures- Truman University

All throughout your project site your writing was very clear and eloquent. I also like how you had the You do also provide the necessary background information about the project, to inform the viewers. I do think it would be beneficial to add some images to the “About the Researchers” section in order to add a face to your name. Throughout the website, the design is clear and intuitive. I do suggest you have all your audio and pictures for the oral histories formatted the same to create some consistency.

Latino Migration in the Central Savannah River Area- USCA

In your about section you provide a wonderful description of what COPLAC does, However, I think it would be helpful to address what COPLAC is.  You have also developed Angelica’s narrative very well, you do not yet have an audio for her oral history yet though.

The Interviews

My interviews took place last weekend. With each interview, they got better, but I now feel very guilty now for ever thinking that interviewing people was easy.



On Saturday afternoon, Bobette and I met at the library on Truman’s campus. Despite it being a Saturday, there were quite a few people in the library (welcome to college), so we decided to move to Baldwin Hall, where it was significantly quieter and we could speak loudly without disturbing people.

I had met Bobette before at Kirksville community coordination meetings, so we weren’t complete strangers. Yet, I think we were both a little nervous going into the interviews; interviews aren’t the same as a casual chat. One problem was the conversational aspect. In a conversation, each person shares his or her views or experiences on a subject. They can bounce off of each other, compliment each other, and share stories. An interview is different in that the focus is on one person. I tried my best not to talk too much about myself since the emphasis was Bobette. Yet, it felt much more rigid, and after the interview, I did a lot more talking.

Another issue was the pressure that came with an interview. As an interviewee, what you are saying is the main point of the interview, so if you say something wrong, it feels as though everyone will be focused on it. As an interviewer, your job to make the interviewee as comfortable as possible while also coaxing interesting information from them.

Finally, one thing that is hard to convey through an audio recording is the negotiation of meaning. Since communication takes place through both verbal and nonverbal communication, the facial expressions were an important part that didn’t always get conveyed. Throughout the interview, we did stop a couple of times in order to collect our thoughts and to make sure that we were on the same page. Then, I would restart and ask the question again. It actually made things a bit smoother since there was more time to put together our thoughts and knowing that we could stop it gave us a little less pressure.

The whole time, I was self conscious of my reactions. I couldn’t say “That’s cool,” after every line, but that’s what I ended up saying for a lot of them. Reactions are difficult, especially on audio, because you need to show that you really are interested in what the other person is saying, but you shouldn’t take any bias.


Interview 2: Ossok


This was probably the smoothest interview. After English classes in Milan on Sunday, Ossok stopped by for the interview. We had talked before in English classes about  the differences between his and my country, so in a way the content of our interview was not new. What was new was that I was no longer playing the role of English teacher, but as an interviewer. As an English teacher, you have to give your students plenty of input, which means that you talk a lot and when your student doesn’t understand (which, Ossok usually understood because his language level was so high), you form a simpler sentence or you draw a picture. In an interview at even his English level, there was definitely negotiation for meaning, but the roles were reversed. Ossok was the one talking; I was the one listening.


Interview 3: Servais


I was ecstatic to find out that Servais was home from Iowa and that I could interview him. He was very into the idea of the project. I went to visit him at his home on Monday after our class, and after elaborating on the project (I had given him a general idea a few months ago, when I asked for the interview), he insisted that I film him after he shaved the next day. However, none of the other interviews on our website were filmed (not everyone wanted to be filmed), so I explained to him that I would prefer if we did audio. I came back to his house the next day, when the rest of his family was at work or school, so that it was quieter when we did the interview. He was very passionate about talking about the suffering in DRC and hoped that the US could help solve the political situation.
After listening to part of the first recording, he wanted to record again. We ended up creating three separate recordings. Each one had better English, but each one was slightly different.


After doing these interviews, I thought about Ellen Degeneres. Yes, Ellen. And here you think, “Well, that came out of nowhere,” but really, she does the same things I was trying to do. She helps to share the stories of hundreds of really cool people. She is an excellent interviewer. Peoplon her show always seem to be relaxed and viewers tend to learn a lot about them. I want my interviewees to be relaxed, but I also want to learn a lot about them.


This project has showed me that I need a lot more practice. Listening to the recordings (after a little bit of editing), I realised that they weren’t as bad as I thought, but I could still use practice.

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