Monthly Archives: April 2013

About the interviews

As we began to practice interviewing, we did a small interview with our class mates about the 2008 Presidential election which was only supposed to be 10minutes long. That interview was nerve racking. It was hard to ask the interviewee questions when the interviewer had no questions. Also it was challenging to bring the interviewee back on track to stay on topic. After we conducted these small interviews, we discussed as a class how we felt it went and we received feedback. This included tone, not seeming too brash with questions, and even eye contact.
Our next set of interviews were done amongst each other again but this time about the storm. We used the same questions we would ask out future interviewees for the project. This exercise allowed us to get used to the questions and pacing ourselves. Although most of our interviews never made it past an hour, we still felt it was good practice. Some people expressed feeling awkward simply because they weren’t sure if they had answered the question how the interviewer wanted etc. Others felt it was a bit hard to stay focused because we knew each other so it felt like they were having a conversation and not so much a formal interview.
When I finally conducted my interview I was confident. A few days earlier, I took a trip to the Bayshore area with Mary (who was a great help) and met the family if whom I would be interviewing. *Side note: Mary assisted most of the class with finding people to interview since she was from the area.* The family was Mary’s co-worker and they were very warm and welcoming – this conquered my fear of awkwardness due to the lack of a relationship with the interviewee. Mary and myself explained what the project was about an how the interview would conducted and that in the end we will be transcribing them just that they are aware that it will be formal. The night of my interview, I had the recording equipment and my phone as a back up. We had just received the recorders that evening maybe 2 hours before I had my interview and I just didn’t trust it. Meaning I wasn’t sure if it would record or die on me so I had my phone as a back up.
The interview went really well. Linda Gonzalez (my interviewee) answered all the questions even most before I had to ask them. The interview ran for about an hour and a half. Once the interview was over, I sighed a breath of relief knowing that it was done and it went well. I enjoyed the interview and looked forward to completing more interviews. I loved hearing the stories these people affected by the storm had to share.

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Meet the Crew!

Our group picture before the presentation at OHMAR.

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Once a Beach Front home now in the swamp

This home in Union Ave / Front St. in Union Beach was once facing the shore. It has been pushed so far back off the foundation it is in a swamp. It hasn’t been moved since I’ve been there.

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The Time is Here…

At this moment my classmates and I are sitting on the train on our way to theĀ Oral History in the Mid-Atlantic Region conference in College Park, MD, to present on this project. There has been so much work done to get to this point and it is finally here.

We have learned all about oral history and how to create it. The last two weeks has been spent conducting our interviews and if I was nervous for that I don’t know how to describe my feelings about presenting in front of a large group of people.

As nervous as I am I am just as excited to be able to share our projects and even my own personal experience; even though I am terrified of getting emotional in front of a room of strangers. Sandy may have been months ago, but to me it is like it was yesterday. To this day driving around the neighborhoods I get choked up at how empty it all seems. Every time I hear the sound of rushing water I get a panicked feeling and the memories; of sitting on the stairs watching the water come into the house, come flooding into my head. We were in inches of water in less than five minutes and it wasn’t long before we were staring down at almost four feet of nasty dirty water. We watched as our possessions floated in and out of the rooms and as the furniture was picked up and flipped over in the water. We waited and waited for what seemed like forever for the water to go down and when it did we were left with a mess. I’m still not sure what was more traumatic, sitting in the house watching the water rise and dealing with the mess and loss of possessions or going out and realizing half the town and surrounding communities were gone. Houses were just taken away, ripped right off the foundation.

This is just a glimpse at my experience and I am getting emotional just thinking about it. Tomorrow I will be sharing more information with a number of strangers and I can only hope that my adrenaline will kick in and my brain won’t have time to process the emotion that comes along with the story and trauma.

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