Memories of Migration Youth Interviewer Training
A youth group was trained to conduct interviews with adults and seniors about their memories of migration.
This interactive workshop helped the youth to understand oral history interviews as interviewees and interviewers. As immigrants themselves, learning how to record migration stories helped them think about other people’s stories as well as their own transition. The participants seemed to enjoy the interview practice with each other the most. The workshop was conducted bilingually in Chinese and English since the English level of the group varied. Each participant was given a folder with forms and tips. They raised a lot of questions about coordinating interviews towards the end.
At the orientation events, we introduced what archives are and how the Queens Memory team can help Chinese-Americans to preserve their migration stories. We showed photos donated by other participants from our website. We also explained what oral history interviews are. Towards the end, we did a little story sharing session. We listed sample questions from the History of Migration questions sheet and asked 3 volunteers to share their experiences and thoughts about the neighborhood with us. 16 student volunteers attended the first orientation session on April 30th and 26 attended on May 3rd. The actual training workshop was on May 6th and 13 student volunteers attended.
Two workshop participants continued on as volunteers with us after the workshop to help our team at our community history events. These events welcome local residents to drop by with historic images and other materials from their families and communities. We digitize the items, gather info about them so we can add them to the library’s digital archives, and then send them home with the scans we’ve created. We usually discuss how they are approaching personal digital archiving and pass along helpful tips for keeping their family’s records safe.
The two volunteers helped to set up tables and equipment before the events and then sat with participants who brought photos from home to write down information about each image that would later be used to create a catalog record. They had experience with conducting oral history interview with interviewees under supervision and they also created an English and Chinese version of a timecode outline (a type of descriptive document we create in lieu of full transcriptions for our oral history interviews) for a recorded interview with a Mandarin-speaking interviewee.
We wish more of the participants would have completed oral history interviews with elders from their church as we had originally planned, but the workshops themselves did have value in terms of exposing these young participants to interviewing techniques that can serve them in the future.
Yingwen Huang led these workshops and managed the library’s relationship with Christina Huang (CCHC’s Shining Light Youth coordinator) to set up the opportunity to work together. She was a part-time, IMLS grant-funded archivist working for us as part of the Memories of Migration project. Helping her at the oral history workshop were Obden Mondesir, a graduate Library and Information Studies student who was working with the Queens Library as a Citi Fellow, a year-long internship program conducted with the Citi Center for Culture. Also helping was Reshad Hai, working with Queens Library as a CUNY Service Corps employee, a paid 12 hour/week, two semester service learning placement for undergraduates enrolled in the City University of New York.
The objectives of the Memories of Migration project were explained during the orientation. Photographs from the Queens Public Library archives were shown to demonstrate the historical context of the local area so that participants learn more about the value of their local history. The orientation also introduced the participants to oral history interviews. Towards the end, three volunteers shared their migration experience and thoughts about the neighborhood with everyone.
A youth group from the Chinese Christian Herald Crusades (CCHC) Shining Light Youth Center was trained to conduct interviews with adults and seniors about their memories of migration. This workshop introduced youth group members to the basics of oral history interview, techniques they can use during oral interviews, and other issues that might come up during the interview. Workshop was conducted in Chinese and English.
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