Valuing Reflections

Reflections on the Oral History Interviews: Friday morning, June 20

We give time to what we value.  I value leading teachers in reflection, and I budget time for reflecting. Each morning of the residential week of RRR Summer Institute begins with a reflection of what we have done the day before.  I believe in every-member-written reflection.  Sometimes we share the reflections aloud, and other times, I just collect the cards and type a summation.  I have compiled these reflections word-for-word.  Jann

Being on the outside—cutting the fruit, preparing coffee, and running for water—the best part was watching as the interviewers and the interviewees came from the interviews laughing and enjoying themselves.  I enjoyed listening to the highlights and the growth moments of everyone.

I made a giant moose that terrified a guy in a canoe (stamping thank you cards).  Wow! Bocce ball court with Steve and Josh.  I was humbled and honored to hear so many inspiring stories of people who want to—and have changed our landscape for the better.  I had a great time with you, Jann, touching your head and your computer screen…working on the computer with you.  Loved…and am still eager to work with Roni.  I was honored to be in Jeff’s company with all that he is going through.  I felt incredibly interconnected with our communiteeeee.  I contributed lovingly.  I laughed authentically.  I cried honestly.  I learned enthusiastically.  I journeyed joyfully.  I ate tremendously.  I walked constantly.  I dreamed intuitively.  I played childfully.  I mediated presently.

Yesterday was an amazing day…not only for the RRR participants, but also for the people who were interviewed.  Everyone was thrilled with the process.  During the day I witnessed the thrill of victory and the agony of technology defeat…ultimately VICTORY!

Stretching and growing are not comfortable.  They are not easy.  When you are challenged in ways that are not the usual way that you would do things, there is a REAL learning curve.  That is growth—stretching and learning.  Understanding the importance of long-term consequences of settlement and construction is important enough to be worked into the consciousness of citizens—young or old—learn its effects on the long-term future.  The value of seeing and working with dedicated, passionate educators is beyond description.  The synergy that is developed grows along with the respect for the individuals as well as their work.  This has been an unqualified, excellent experience.

Interviewing—the people we interviewed were just as nervous as I.  It was so wonderful to hear how dedicated Ron S was to his cause—West Creek.  It was a great learning experience, and I now feel more comfortable to do the interviews next week.

Hearing first-hand about the experiences of the individuals involved in making a difference in the West Creek project…making history…was a magical experience.  You could not help but get excited for them when you heard the excitement in their voices.  You could feel the emotion.

I really felt anxious going into the interview, knowing my person is an “icon” in local conservation.  Upon listening, I realized that he is a regular person, living almost two separate lives.  I am most intrigued by the fact that he is an industry man by day and a conservationist by night.  This interview also gave me confidence to take an oral history from the “high profile” subjects.  P.S.  I felt really good about myself that I helped a few RRR’s during the week that I had not interacted much with previously.

At the beginning of the day I was very unsure of how the interviews would go.  But ever since the interview, I’ve been amazed at how fun and interesting it was.  You hear of all the things people accomplish in these projects…but what you don’t hear is each individual’s struggle and everything they have to battle.  It makes you realize that amazing things don’t come easy.  Of course the card stamping was a great time and watching bocce ball and having Steve’s expertise was good, as well.

Teaching is so much more valuable to children when the teacher understands their inner self.  This past week was delightfully filled with the collegial validation of enhancing our inner selves through visual reflections of our history and the history of the environment.  I personally place so much value on experiences such as this.  I love the exhilarating growing experience.  WOW can’t come close to putting it in words.  I have at 61 years again really stretched and grown and I can’t wait to impact a new class of students.  I will so miss the WOW of this collegial group.

It’s hard for me to listen to someone and not verbally respond to what they’re saying.  The interview taught me how to just listen.  I liked the way the interviewer felt nervous at first and then slowly became empowered by the fact that someone was interested in their story and viewpoints.  I could see the person work through their answer in their head as their story unfolded.  Oral history is a treasure chest of memories that will never be buried or lost again.

Great job with working equipment (handouts especially helpful).  Fabulous job by Rich (on the Doan Brook tour).  I would have liked to see West Creek in Parma.  Interview—learned a lot!  They all love and admire Dave Vasarhelyi.  I felt well prepared.

I enjoyed the experience of the whole process from doing the technical equipment to doing the interview.  I was definitely nervous at first when I was conducting the interview, but once I started talking with my interviewee, I felt at ease.  I thought I came up with enough questions, but I think for my next interview, I will write more—just in case my interviewee answers with short precise comments.

What an incredible day.  With the tools you gave us that we sharpened and refined during the week, we had the opportunity to step into the life of an individual, walk beside him for a moment and learn about all of his passions.  What a privilege!  Thank You!

Fear Anxiety!  Apprehension!  That was the beginning of my day.  There is nothing like having to spend an hour with someone you don’t know, but put two peers in the room watching you, and the stress mounts.  “Smiles, relaxation, confidence” was the end of the day.  Stamping…as I always told my kids, you don’t need drugs or alcohol to feel good.  The best feeling you have come from getting high in life’s simple moments.

My magic moment was meeting our interviewees informally as they gathered.  I was struck by their enthusiasm…no, more…their passion to make a difference on the landscape of a watershed where people, natural world and commerce come together.

Prepare:  Research the project area to gain “gut” knowledge.  Start with the questions from our training.  Pre-call interviewee helped, but not something to dwell on if no connect is made.  During:  LISTEN.  Work to get “comfortable friend-to-friend conversation.”  Relax.

I really learned from the oral history interview.  Both interviews in the group went very well.  Our team worked very well together as we are a driven and directed team.  I was MOST disappointed that after one interview that I was the “taper” for, the information appeared lost off the card.  I felt like I let down my team.  Some people said that I didn’t tape correctly.  Eventually, the interview was retrieved…AHHHHH!  It only upset me that I had to find out through the grapevine that the interview was located on the card!

What went right:  We had some great attitudes with people who were patient with us and the technology.  All the interviewee came!  What went wrong: Some people had bad attitudes about things that had to change and didn’t want to “go with the flow.”

I was stressed by the shortage of time to make the phone calls to our people.  I was trying to get mine as the bus was pulling up to leave on Thursday after leaving a message on Wednesday.  I enjoyed the interview and after hearing two, I had a new appreciation for West Creek.  I will add oral interviews as primary resources.

Yesterday, I interviewed and facilitated.  Both subjects we interviewed were eager to share their experiences.  I really don’t think the interviews could have gone any better.  I am looking forward to doing horal histories in Berea.

I will admit that I was very skeptical about the oral history piece.  However, I was pleasantly surprised.  It was a great experience and I am looking forward to Monday and Tuesday.  The boat ride really brought the environmental piece home for me.  I do think that next summer I will volunteer sometime with the Canalway.

I enjoyed the enthusiasm of those involved.  Very refreshing!

I enjoyed the fellowship with other teachers and the appreciation of nature that they bring.

I learned about how to start collecting oral histories.  This is something I want to do in my classes.  I was…at first…not sure I could do this, but after yesterday, I am confident that I could do this project with my students.

I was really nervous and apprehensive about interviewing.  As I facilitated the first one and asked follow-up questions, I felt more confident.  As I conducted my interview, I easily formulated follow-up questions.

We had a fun time talking with our subjects.  They wee willing to share a lot of information.  Lots of learning o the fly as the questions either ran out or didn’t work.  I like Justin’s metaphor of oral historian as archeologist.

I was glad that I was a facilitator first because I learned so much doing that.  I felt bad for the guy that was being interviewed, because he seemed so nervous.  After the first 5-10 minutes things seemed to get on track.  So, later, when I was doing the interview part, I worked to make sure that the person being interviewed was comfortable.

The more we saw the “pros” demonstrate an interview the less I got nervous about the interview.  When Mark said, “You already know enough to interview.  You are experts in the Cuyahoga Valley,” all my anxiety left.  In fact….it was easy and fun.