Dorothy Patch-Kennedy, Maria Carillo High School, 9, Grade Teacher

Our students had a very positive experience learning interactive interviewing skills that enabled them to take oral histories. They developed new skills in thinking through their questions and creating follow-up questions.

The life stories students heard were rather eye opening, particularly those about immigration. Getting here can be difficult, challenging and dangerous. Students learned what its like to deal with things like language and cultural barriers when they’re new to this country. They shared in the experience of being immersed in a new society. If the interviewee has a real life experience to tell the students, that’s what gets their attention. There’s an authenticity of learning that happens when you have an encounter with a real person.

The idea of the program is to really help them explore the concept of human rights and how and when those kinds of things have been compromised at different points in history. We can provide them with all the rich text and films and materials. But when they actually get to interact with real people and hear about their experience and their story, it hits them at a deeper level. When they listened to the Holocaust survivor, they were absolutely riveted.