Voices of Migration Course Site

An Oral History Collective

Author: Savannah (page 1 of 2)

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.   

Project Site Reviews

Merging Cultures: The Congo in Kirksville

http://migration.coplacdigital.org/truman/

 

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!

 

EXPLORING GREEK MIGRATION TO THE BERKSHIRES

http://migration.coplacdigital.org/mcla/

 

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!

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.

Revised Contract

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1yIZH5e4NA_bbcwq6Xbe4Bwr41gbQlZiuKxndXVrMlyA/edit?usp=sharing

Project Contract

Our team’s project contract can be accessed here!

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1yIZH5e4NA_bbcwq6Xbe4Bwr41gbQlZiuKxndXVrMlyA/edit?usp=sharing

Blog Post #3

Here’s the link to our draft of potential interview questions:

Interview Questions: Draft

 

Jacob’s blog can be accessed here

Blog Post #2

 

Jacob and I were provided with a variety of local resource connections through our initial meeting with USCA’s Instruction/Reference Librarian, Deborah Tripp. As we expressed initial interest in examining post-war industrialism and the impacts of SRS on local migration, Deborah provided us with connections to George Wingard, a member of the Savannah River Archaeological Research Program, and recommended that we visit the Savannah River Site Museum, as well as the Aiken History Museum. In addition, she suggested going through the digital archives of local newspapers and review the archival collections of Gregg/Swint Memorial Room, which focuses on Southern economic, social, and labor history. After spending hours scouring through decades worth of newspaper articles published by the Aiken Standard and sorting through census data, I felt defeated. We couldn’t substantiate the ties between migration and SRS and, as such, Jacob and I decided to approach this from a new angle. Researching migration within South Carolina is not a simple task, given the state’s hostile racial landscape and complex history of racism, nativism, isolationism, and ethnocentric values. However, we were finally able to locate a few studies that pointed to a growing population of Mexican immigrants in Aiken and the surrounding areas. We are currently in the process of scheduling an additional meeting with Deborah Tripp to gain additional resources and instruction.

From here, we plan to gain insight into the implications of southern identity and the state’s post-war industrialization on Latino immigration. As Latino migration to the South is a relatively new trend compared to other areas of the nation, very little research has been done on the micro level. For South Carolina, and Aiken in particular, this research is virtually non-existent. We know the migration trend exists, but little attention has been given to the personal experiences of these migrants. While exploring the implications of post-war industrialization and labor, we’d like to shed light on the processes through which Mexican migrants experience South Carolina’s unique social, political, and cultural systems and how they are navigating social and cultural life in the deep south. Some possible research questions include:

 

  • What brought you to South Carolina, and to Aiken in particular? What was the migration process like?
  • Was the cultural transition easier or more difficult than you’d initially expected?
  • In what ways do you think you have changed since moving to South Carolina?
  • What Mexican traditions would you like to continue practicing?
  • How do you think your experiences in Aiken compare to those of Mexican immigrants in other areas of the country? Can you describe some of the greatest problems specifically faced by Aiken’s Mexican community?
  • Do you feel accepted as a community member?
  • What can the city do to better accommodate the needs of its’ migrant community?

Blog Post #2

 

Jacob and I were provided with a variety of local resource connections through our initial meeting with USCA’s Instruction/Reference Librarian, Deborah Tripp. As we expressed initial interest in examining post-war industrialism and the impacts of SRS on local migration, Deborah provided us with connections to George Wingard, a member of the Savannah River Archaeological Research Program, and recommended that we visit the Savannah River Site Museum, as well as the Aiken History Museum. In addition, she suggested going through the digital archives of local newspapers and review the archival collections of Gregg/Swint Memorial Room, which focuses on Southern economic, social, and labor history. After spending hours scouring through decades worth of newspaper articles published by the Aiken Standard and sorting through census data, I felt defeated. We couldn’t substantiate the ties between migration and SRS and, as such, Jacob and I decided to approach this from a new angle. Researching migration within South Carolina is not a simple task, given the state’s hostile racial landscape and complex history of racism, nativism, isolationism, and ethnocentric values. However, we were finally able to locate a few studies that pointed to a growing population of Mexican immigrants in Aiken and the surrounding areas. We are currently in the process of scheduling an additional meeting with Deborah Tripp to gain additional resources and instruction.

From here, we plan to gain insight into the implications of southern identity and the state’s post-war industrialization on Latino immigration. As Latino migration to the South is a relatively new trend compared to other areas of the nation, very little research has been done on the micro level. For South Carolina, and Aiken in particular, this research is virtually non-existent. We know the migration trend exists, but little attention has been given to the personal experiences of these migrants. While exploring the implications of post-war industrialization and labor, we’d like to shed light on the processes through which Mexican migrants experience South Carolina’s unique social, political, and cultural systems and how they are navigating social and cultural life in the deep south. Some possible research questions include:

 

  • What brought you to South Carolina, and to Aiken in particular? What was the migration process like?
  • Was the cultural transition easier or more difficult than you’d initially expected?
  • In what ways do you think you have changed since moving to South Carolina?
  • What Mexican traditions would you like to continue practicing?
  • How do you think your experiences in Aiken compare to those of Mexican immigrants in other areas of the country? Can you describe some of the greatest problems specifically faced by Aiken’s Mexican community?
  • Do you feel accepted as a community member?
  • What can the city do to better accommodate the needs of its’ migrant community?

Blog Post #1

https://arcg.is/0qb4G8

I decided to synthesize the knowledge I’ve obtained within the past week through the use of the Story Maps digital tool. Through this activity, I’ve largely learned that indecision is, by far, my most glaring flaw! As an amateur with technology, the magnitude of content and overwhelming degree of customization initially left me with sore eyes and low moral. However, I was determined to utilize this tool to the best of my abilities. The geographic layout of regions on a page conveys more than just spatial relations. The simple sight of a map can conjure something visceral and Story Maps allowed me to emphasize the geo-political nature of migration in a way that would otherwise fall flat.

Through this activity, I became acutely aware of how difficult it is to summarize the phenomenon of migration. In a way, the nuances and complexities of this digital tool were reflections of the immense scope and intricacies of the issue itself. Conveying the history and human impact of oppressive conditions through such a technological vessel felt somewhat surreal and I often found myself questioning where to place the emphasis and bulk of my focus: on the technology or the information? After meticulously scrolling through map layers and sorting through endless page layouts, a realization finally hit me. I’d been missing the entire point. Technology and the social sciences do not have to be mutually exclusive fields, and this exercise allowed me to truly synthesize the two realms for myself.  

Voices of Migration

I was immediately intrigued at the idea of participating in COPLACDigital Voices of Migration, as I’ve been quite interested in exploring the human impact of the Savannah River Site and its influence on migration patterns of my hometown and surrounding areas. Local demographics and identity in the deep south are subjects that have fascinated me throughout my academic career. As a sociology major, I’m deeply interested in conducting geographical analysis of social problems and in studying the forces that contribute to migration, such as industrialization, urbanization, political conflict, access to labor force participation, resource scarcity, etc. I believe that COPLACDigital Voices of Migration has provided an outlet and means to shed a humanizing light on the migrant community in and around my hometown of Aiken, South Carolina.

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