Latino Voices: Oral History Training Workshop
After six months preparation we were ready to begin looking for individuals to participate in the project. Rodas engaged the community and posted our bilingual flyers in an effort to enlist interested community members as interviewers and interviewees. Méndez then took the contact information and along with Rodas and Williams planned an oral history workshop. Méndez, Rodas and Williams selected all the oral history workers and interviewees. Funded through grants from the Utah Humanities Council and the Utah Division of State History, we hosted the workshop at USU in June 2007. Sixteen community members attended, of whom 13 agreed to act as project fieldworkers. During an earlier workshop held in March, Williams trained five USU linguistics students who wanted use the interview experience as part of their Spanish linguistics course service learning component.
The training was very successful. Méndez, a gifted teacher, shared information on cultural sensitivity; and Williams taught oral history best practices. The participants clearly caught the vision of oral history work, and expressed excitement in being part of this collecting project. “I was very impressed with the scope and depth of this program. . . .” exclaimed one, noting how similar projects should be pursued “in Davis County [Utah] where I grew up.” Participants universally expressed their belief that the project would be a “voice to the Latino community… [and] help the Latino Community feel more a part of… Cache Valley…” [UHC]. Méndez offered a concluding sentiment when she declared that as both “a member of this community, and a direct contributor to the project’s fulfillment, I cannot think of a better way to bring the Latino community to light.” The project, she asserted, would illuminate the “qualities and strength of character that have helped [my community] forge a present and a future in a western corner of a great nation. The Latino Voices Project is making justice as it enhances the quality of education, promotes further research and connects generations through the years” [Williams and Méndez].