I was initially apprehensive when I heard I would need to interview an immigrant for one of my classes. Although I had spoken with many family members and friends and heard their own stories, this assignment was a new experience for me.
What if I did not get enough information for the project? What if I messed up the questions or made it uncomfortable for my narrator to share her story?
To interview another person, or a narrator, means that I would be creating an Oral History, specifically about the narrator’s experiences as an immigrant. Oral History can be defined as “the recording of personal testimony delivered in oral form with purposes beyond the recording itself” (Yow 4).
Basically, this form of research allows a narrator to be interviewed so their individual story can be preserved not only for the interviewer, but also for others interested in the narrator’s story.
I chose my narrator from among those in my extended family. I had heard parts of my family’s migration story, but I had yet to hear this particular relative’s story from her own point of view. Realizing this, I became more excited about taking the time to hear her immigration story.
After studying the process of conducting an in-depth interview, I now see why it is so important to seek out other peoples’ experiences. Oral History adds meaning and perspective to the events and facts that make up History. I may never have decided to ask my family member to tell me her story if not for this class. When I interview, it is much more than a casual conversation because it is a conversation with a purpose.
Yow, Valerie Raleigh. Recording Oral History: A Guide for the Humanities and Social Sciences.Third Edition. Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc. 2015.