Oral History Project: Learning Language and Culture While Serving Immigrant Communities

Conference: The IAFOR International Conference on Education in Hawaii (IICE2022)
Title: Oral History Project: Learning Language and Culture While Serving Immigrant Communities
Stream: Challenging & Preserving: Culture, Inter/Multiculturalism & Language
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation
Maria Grazia De Angelis, Saint Mary's College of California, United States
Audrey Edmondo, Saint Mary's College of California, United States


This presentation offers a pedagogical framework for a community engagement project that can be used by instructors of any language. Over the past twelve years, students in Professor Maria Grazia De Angelis’ Italian classes have examined issues connected with immigration through interviews with members of the Italian community in the San Francisco Bay Area. Students conduct the interviews in Italian, developing their language skills, and record the stories in videos they present to the immigrants and archive as part of a larger historical record. The interviews are conducted in person but were held over Zoom during the pandemic. While this project focuses specifically on Italian immigrants in California, it could be done with immigrants in any language and region.
This project benefits both the students and the people they interview, while at the same time creating a vital historical record.
1. Talking with immigrants is culturally eye opening for the students and motivates them to improve their language skills.
2. For the immigrants, having their stories recorded gives them the gift of history, having their life stories recorded for posterity.
3. For the future researchers, the final documentaries and Story Map (using ArcGIS software) will be a rich historical resource of immigrant stories, uploaded on a website that created with the help of a grant. The presentation will include samples of student work, a sample syllabus, strategies for assessment, and tips from the perspective of both the instructor and the students.

Virtual Presentation

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