Voices of Migration Course Site

An Oral History Collective

Author: kraus (page 1 of 2)

Reflection

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.

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.

 

Bobette:

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.

Review on Other Websites

Las Voces de las Américas

Context:
You have a very good description of the course and of COPLAC. I think it might also bebeneficial to say a little about yourselves, including your college, your role as students, and the time period that this is taking place. I also think that some digital tools or links would add to the aesthetic of your website.

Oral Histories:
Still in progress. Side note: I felt very relieved when I heard that you found people to interview. I can’t wait to hear their stories!

Narratives:
Still in progress. Just make sure to incorporate them well with the oral histories.

Digital Recordings:
Still in progress.

Resources and Documentation:
Still need a page of background information and the sources.

Website Design:
Looks very nice, and the website can be translated! However, when you click on “About the  Authors,” nothing shows up. It might be useful to add some more information on that page. Even though there are other pages that take you to your descriptions, I think the user would like some sort of information on any page that they can click on.

Language and Editing:
The Spanish rocks!!! It makes your website very accessible to all people who are involved in the situation that you are covering. It might look more professional to use third person on your content page.

Overall, I know your website is still in progress, but what is already posted looks good. The large picture really draws the viewer in, and the Spanish is a wonderful asset to many people. If you keep formatting the website as you are now, it will look wonderful when you have included all the information.

 

Exploring Greek Migration to the Berkshires

Context:
You have a wonderful description! It is very professional due to your use of third person and your added details. Yet, you also are able to draw people in with your use of links and easy language. It is a good length and a good introduction to your website.

Oral Histories:
Don’t forget to insert the link to your transcription. Could you add that link so that when  the user opens it, it won’t stop the audio or close the page? I look forward to hearing the  interviews of your other interviewees.

Narratives:
Could you add a picture to go along with the narratives? I would like to see what your  interviewees look like. I appreciate the story-like narrative and the description of the atmosphere. It makes it more like a story rather than a research project, which encourages the viewer to continue reading.

Digital recordings:
It might hold the viewer’s attention more if you split up your interview by theme. For example: a clip on her childhood, a clip on her quotes about community and the church, etc. Audacity is a good tool to use to edit out these clips.

Resources and Documentation:
Still in progress. Don’t forget to include background and social information about their community. This would be a good area to include digital tools.

Website Design:
Your menus and the sidebar make your website easy to navigate. However, I thinkpictures would be a good way to enhance the look.

Language and Editing:
I found only a few punctuation errors. Also, be sure to cite everything for the information you post in the future.

Overall, your website looks very nice and you seem to be going in the right direction. You have a good balance between conversational and professional. Make sure to include research and citations on your website.

Story Maps

Joe and I were able to meet yesterday, and I felt that even though we only did a little bit, we made pretty good progress. Our website officially has an “About” page and a page for the interviews. In fact, Joe was able to upload some of his interviews that he’s already had. I’m still waiting to record mine, but I’m excited to see what it will look like when we have them all uploaded.

To add to that, I received confirmation from the student at Job Corps in Iowa saying that he will be home this weekend to interview with me. I don’t know what time, yet, but hopefully our plans so far will remain secured.

On another page, I realized that for my intentions with the story map, it would be more useful to use StoryMapJS instead of ArcGIS. While ArcGIS gives the user access to go where he or she pleases and to read the information in any order, StoryMapJS creates a more structured slideshow. ArcGIS is still my go-to site for the language map, since the information is less specific and the order doesn’t matter. However, for the map of places that are important for the Congolese population, I found it useful to begin with DRC and then take the user on a trip around Kirksville and then to Milan. Chronologically, the immigrants began in DRC and then travelled to this area. Plus, it’s much easier to show details specific places with StoryMapJS. When I make my language map, the marked areas will be much larger, so it won’t be necessary to pinpoint specific towns or streets.

In the next few days, I plan to edit the Story Map and to move forward with my language map on ArcGIS. I also still need to do more in-depth research on the Diversity Visa. Until later!

Insider on Interviews (and other things)

Update on Interviews:

It’s taken a bit of time for my potential interviewees to get back to me, but Joe has been on a roll. He already has completed two interviews and is hoping to schedule another one. Meanwhile, I have been trying to contact some interviewees, some with success and some with difficulty:

Interviewee one: A translator for the Adair County Health Department. Our interview set up for next Saturday afternoon.

Interviewee two: A student of my English class. I have been messaging him through Facebook, and he has agreed to do the interview. However, after I send him a message, I usually don’t receive a reply. I’ve found it effective to message him again after a few days of not replying. He originally said that he was free this Sunday; however, I was out of town for Easter. In our most recent Facebook conversation, he said he will get back with me on Wednesday to tell me if he is free next Sunday.

Interviewee three: I am still hoping to interview a third person, but will need to follow up with her in English class. I tried to contact her through email, but so far have not received a reply. Unfortunately, she was not in class next week so I was unable to talk to her. I might try to email her again, but might not be successful.

Interviewee four: A few weeks ago, I contacted another local English teacher to see if there would be anyone in her classes who we could interview. She gave me the name and email address of one gentleman who is working at Kraft and taking GED classes. I tried to contact him via email, but it bounced back to me. According to my Mail Delivery System, his email address did not exist.

Interviewee five: Student at Job Corps in Ottumwa, Iowa. I often go to his mother’s house to help her with her English. I had asked him a few weeks ago and he agreed to be interviewed. However, since he is usually at school, I don’t see him very often and knew before starting the interviews that it might be difficult to set  up a time and date to interview him. However, if he happens to be in town in the next few weeks, there is still a chance that I could interview him in time for Joe and my presentation. Nevertheless, even if we interview him later, I do think it would be very worthwhile to put his interview on our website. Job Corps is an excellent program for young Congolese people, and is a great way to improve their English. However, I don’t know how many people know about it.  Read more about Job Corps here. .

Overall, I believe that a lot of the difficulties I’m having are due to cultural differences. I have tried to contact Congolese students for my English classses before, but I often do run into the problem that their emails don’t work or they do not respond. From what I have observed with some of my students and heard from professors who work with the population, computer skills are often a new concept in the US. Therefore, many of them do not use their emails as often as a university student would. However, many other factors could be involved in the communication issues, such as a difference in email connectivity between US emails (123@yahoo.com) and Congolese emails (123@yahoo.fr).

 

Update on the Website:

Joe and I are working more and more on the content we want to put on the website. We have created a shared Google Docs in order to help us organize our information and determine who we want to display it on our website. When Joe and I next meet, we are planning on setting up some of our pages and creating an About Us and an About COPLAC page.

This past week, I created a Story Map for our website that pinpointed important areas for the Congolese population, including their country of origin, Democratic Republic of Congo, their church and their grocery store in Kirksville, and the Smithfield-Farmland plant in Milan. While creating this, I realized that I was able to use past experiences to describe many of these places. For example, I was able to recall a time I went to a Congolese Church service in order to paint a picture of what one would experience if they attended a service. My only issue is citations. Since this is my own personal experience, do I need to cite these? Also, how would I cite these since these experiences took place last year and since they are not recorded resources?

After editing and finalizing the draft of the Story Map, I hope to create another Story Map that shows where the main languages of DRC are spoken. By using the Ethnologue website, I was able to identify all the languages spoken in the country, as well as what states they are spoken in. I have Also found a map of all the provinces and found that I could use the “Area” setting to surround the general area where the languages are spoken. By the end of this project, I hope to have shown my audience how many languages are spoken in the Congo in hopes of eliminating some of the stigma against them for not speaking English.  This is not meant to excuse the Congolese from leaning English, but it’s important for monolingual people to realize that the Congolese have already learned numerous languages, and that this may have an effect when they try to learn English. Perhaps I could ask my interviewees about the effects of multilingualism on learning English.

 

In all, I am excited to see what we accomplish in the next weeks, and how our interviews turn out. My next meeting with Joe should set the scene for what work we will prioritize in the next week and how it would be best to move forward. Until my next post, wish us luck and productivity!

Insider on Interviews (and other things)

Update on Interviews:

It’s taken a bit of time for my potential interviewees to get back to me, but Joe has been on a roll. He already has completed two interviews and is hoping to schedule another one. Meanwhile, I have been trying to contact some interviewees, some with success and some with difficulty:

Interviewee one: A translator for the Adair County Health Department. Our interview set up for next Saturday afternoon.

Interviewee two: A student of my English class. I have been messaging him through Facebook, and he has agreed to do the interview. However, after I send him a message, I usually don’t receive a reply. I’ve found it effective to message him again after a few days of not replying. He originally said that he was free this Sunday; however, I was out of town for Easter. In our most recent Facebook conversation, he said he will get back with me on Wednesday to tell me if he is free next Sunday.

Interviewee three: I am still hoping to interview a third person, but will need to follow up with her in English class. I tried to contact her through email, but so far have not received a reply. Unfortunately, she was not in class next week so I was unable to talk to her. I might try to email her again, but might not be successful.

Interviewee four: A few weeks ago, I contacted another local English teacher to see if there would be anyone in her classes who we could interview. She gave me the name and email address of one gentleman who is working at Kraft and taking GED classes. I tried to contact him via email, but it bounced back to me. According to my Mail Delivery System, his email address did not exist.

Interviewee five: Student at Job Corps in Ottumwa, Iowa. I often go to his mother’s house to help her with her English. I had asked him a few weeks ago and he agreed to be interviewed. However, since he is usually at school, I don’t see him very often and knew before starting the interviews that it might be difficult to set  up a time and date to interview him. However, if he happens to be in town in the next few weeks, there is still a chance that I could interview him in time for Joe and my presentation. Nevertheless, even if we interview him later, I do think it would be very worthwhile to put his interview on our website. Job Corps is an excellent program for young Congolese people, and is a great way to improve their English. However, I don’t know how many people know about it.  Read more about Job Corps here. .

Overall, I believe that a lot of the difficulties I’m having are due to cultural differences. I have tried to contact Congolese students for my English classses before, but I often do run into the problem that their emails don’t work or they do not respond. From what I have observed with some of my students and heard from professors who work with the population, computer skills are often a new concept in the US. Therefore, many of them do not use their emails as often as a university student would. However, many other factors could be involved in the communication issues, such as a difference in email connectivity between US emails (123@yahoo.com) and Congolese emails (123@yahoo.fr).

 

Update on the Website:

Joe and I are working more and more on the content we want to put on the website. We have created a shared Google Docs in order to help us organize our information and determine who we want to display it on our website. When Joe and I next meet, we are planning on setting up some of our pages and creating an About Us and an About COPLAC page.

This past week, I created a Story Map for our website that pinpointed important areas for the Congolese population, including their country of origin, Democratic Republic of Congo, their church and their grocery store in Kirksville, and the Smithfield-Farmland plant in Milan. While creating this, I realized that I was able to use past experiences to describe many of these places. For example, I was able to recall a time I went to a Congolese Church service in order to paint a picture of what one would experience if they attended a service. My only issue is citations. Since this is my own personal experience, do I need to cite these? Also, how would I cite these since these experiences took place last year and since they are not recorded resources?

After editing and finalizing the draft of the Story Map, I hope to create another Story Map that shows where the main languages of DRC are spoken. By using the Ethnologue website, I was able to identify all the languages spoken in the country, as well as what states they are spoken in. I have Also found a map of all the provinces and found that I could use the “Area” setting to surround the general area where the languages are spoken. By the end of this project, I hope to have shown my audience how many languages are spoken in the Congo in hopes of eliminating some of the stigma against them for not speaking English.  This is not meant to excuse the Congolese from leaning English, but it’s important for monolingual people to realize that the Congolese have already learned numerous languages, and that this may have an effect when they try to learn English. Perhaps I could ask my interviewees about the effects of multilingualism on learning English.

 

In all, I am excited to see what we accomplish in the next weeks, and how our interviews turn out. My next meeting with Joe should set the scene for what work we will prioritize in the next week and how it would be best to move forward. Until my next post, wish us luck and productivity!

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… Sort of

Due to spring break, we have not been able to start on our interviews yet. However, we have chosen a number of interviewees and will begin setting up times with them to interview. Now that classes are back in session, we will be making progress soon! Stay tuned for further updates.

Contract and Timing

 

As the week before spring break tends to go, it was a bit stressful. Joe and I had clashing schedules the weekend of writing the contract, which made it hard for us to meet up and collaborate in person. We ended up using out trusty Google Docs to share the document and edit it when we could. However, for this contract, it ended up being Joe who was the star of the show. We worked together to type up an intro, but after that, he was the one to come up with most of the first rough draft. From there, I was able to edit it and ensure that the wording was representative of what we wanted to say.

 

While writing this contract, I came to a couple realizations. First of all, unlike a typical contract of this nature, we did need to create a simplified version to either explain or to give in paper form to the interviewee. While our interviewees are able to speak conversational English, a contract like this is likely too advanced for them. We want to ensure that they understand fully what we are doing.

 

In addition, I am excited to use the tools that we hope to use, such as Timeline and VideoPro. Since we must still do some research, we are unsure what information exactly we will have on our website, making it hard to know exactly how we will use our tools and organize them well on our webpage. However, we are hoping to create a video intro for our page that describes what the project is. After watching countless documentary-like videos on YouTube and social media, I am very excited to create one with Joe. However, our main question is what are we going to put into it.

 

Finally, I should say something about what happened this past meeting at our community coordination meeting. We talked with a group called Enactus who is hoping to create an accessible community page to post dates and useful information regarding the immigrant community. As a result, the website we are creating will not serve as a community website in this aspect. However, we will still share it with community members at these community meetings. In addition, the previous group’s website and our website will be linked to the main webpage in order to inform the public on the academic and personal sides of the situation.

 

Most of our project right now is based on setting up the interviews once we get the website approved. Once we are able to do that and do a bit more research, I feel that we will gain more and more of an idea of what our website will look like. I know that the final dates are necessary to keep us on track, but at this point, I trust that Joe and I will make appropriate progress. I also feel that it is important to focus on the information more so than the deadline. As we do more and more research, I think we will also have a more realistic idea of how much we can do well in a given period of time. No matter what happens, I’ll keep you updated!

Timeline of the Project: Past and Ahead

Almost Official

Things are happening. All at once, as they always seem to do. But I feel much more excited, much more engaged. I feel more like I’m actually doing something. The progress(for me anyway) of integrating the immigrants here follows a wave-like pattern. Sometimes, everything is calm. We have United Speakers meetings, we have English classes, and then we go about our student lives, focusing on classes instead of community organization.

 

Suddenly, just when I’ve noticed it has all become too calm, it picks up. I meet with other people, who have new ideas on how to improve English classes or reach out to more community members or encourage more immigrant involvement in the community. From there, homework gets pushed aside and meetings get scheduled. Emails get sent and we then sit on the edge of our seats waiting for a reply, waiting for ways to turn our ideas into realities.

 

Now we’ve hit another high tide. Meetings are approaching, emails are awaiting replies, and English classes are better than ever.  Even better, our contract is in the revision stage as Joe and I get ready to interview community members for our website. Hopefully, the contract is just the beginning of what is to come.

Truman Contract

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