An Oral History Collective

Author: psutka

Website Progress

Mo and I have been working on our website, choosing colors and themes, coming up with the basic design and layout that we want for the final product. We also have been working on a timeline through Knightlab, and a story map through ArcGIS. We plan to incorporate both of these tools into our website in order to provide visual context for the narratives that we collect. We have not made many changes since we showed the class our progress this past Thursday, but you should all be able to see some updates in the coming days! I am really looking forward to adding narratives to our website in the next few days, and to seeing how everyone else’s sites develop!

Website Progress

Mo and I have been working on our website, choosing colors and themes, coming up with the basic design and layout that we want for the final product. We also have been working on a timeline through Knightlab, and a story map through ArcGIS. We plan to incorporate both of these tools into our website in order to provide visual context for the narratives that we collect. We have not made many changes since we showed the class our progress this past Thursday, but you should all be able to see some updates in the coming days! I am really looking forward to adding narratives to our website in the next few days, and to seeing how everyone else’s sites develop!

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!

Meeting with Librarians

Morrison and I recently met with our library’s two special collections librarians to discuss how we might go about conducting our research for the project.  Between the two meetings, we received a huge amount of information and tips regarding what migrant communities we can learn about and reach out to, as well as how to go about doing that.  Some migrant communities in Berkshire County that the librarians mentioned include Greek communities, Chinese communities, and Italian communities.   One of the librarians also noted that the county is actively trying to attract young migrants from inside and outside of the United States, in order to counteract the aging population in Western Massachusetts.  Generally when people think of migration, they think of it in terms of what pushes and pulls the migrants themselves.  People also frequently explore the sometimes less-than-welcoming reception that migrants encounter in their new locations.  Communities making a concerted effort to bring in migrants, however, does not come up as often in discussions and academic studies, so this could be a unique and interesting concept to explore.

The librarians also provided a number of resources for getting underway with our research.  For information on local immigration, they suggested the archivists in the local libraries of nearby cities and towns, the local historical society, and the local chamber of commerce.  As far as getting into contact with local migrants, the librarians suggested the Berkshire Immigration Center, immigrant support groups, local churches, and immigrant faculty-members that may be able to offer stories of their own experiences as well as contact information for their family members.  In meeting with the special collections librarians, we were able to obtain a wealth of information and suggestions.

Questions for the local Chinese immigrant community:

  1. What were some reasons that you decided to leave China and migrate to the United States?
  2. Why did you choose to move to this area (Western MA) specifically?
  3. What were some challenges that you experienced as you built a new life in America and adjusted to a different set of cultural norms?
  4. Do you have any regrets or doubts about having migrated?
  5. If you migrated here somewhat recently, how do you envision your new life in this country? What do you hope to experience?
  6. How do you get involved with the local Chinese migrant community?
  7. How do you get involved with the general community?

Why Migration Matters

This assignment on “Why Migration Matters” gave me a bit of practice making a digital presentation that is intended for a general online audience.  It made me think actively about the actual process of creating this sort of presentation, for example, being sure to avoid any copyright issues, which in this case I addressed by searching for photos on unsplash.com.  The video aspect of this assignment made me think about how to structure an informative video, what to include, etc.  It also meant that I needed to think through what I wanted to say beforehand, but not word-for-word, as it is important that it comes across as natural.  Finally, this assignment helped me to become more familiar with the actual technical process of making/uploading a youtube video, which I had not done in years!

 

Link to presentation: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1uFeYrGt7CXviReRnqZiwpV8W5XiDPC9wyk2sRJKXAqs/edit?usp=sharing

 

Link to video:

https://youtu.be/W6gx-d-HsX8

Why am I interested in COPLACDigital Voices of Migration?

I am interested in this course first and foremost because I find the migration experience fascinating, both in its own right, and as it relates to me and my ancestral history.  Some questions regarding causes of migration that I hope to explore in this course include: How do migration causes compare in different regions of the globe? What are the most universally prominent push and pull factors that influence people to migrate? How have migration patterns changed throughout the past century, in terms of both driving forces and locations?

I also hope to explore questions about the cultural experiences and transformations that migrants undergo, including: How are migrants’ customs lost, retained, and integrated into local culture throughout and following migration?  What sorts of cultural traditions and concepts do migrants lose when they settle in a new country, and what do they keep? Why do they lose some and keep others? How do some traditions mix with local ones and contribute to cultural hybridity, such as the “melting pot” that has constituted America’s cultural origins?

As a whole, I am excited to gain insight into a variety of intriguing first-hand accounts of migration, to take a stab at my first online course, to make an interesting and enjoyable website that will appeal to a broad audience, and to see how my project, as well as my classmates’ projects, develop!