Project: Oral Histories

Organization:  Voces Oral History Project – University of Texas Libraries

Website:  http://www.lib.utexas.edu/voces/index.html

The energy in the room was contagious and I caught the bug quickly.  I attended a workshop several months ago that was put on by an organization named The Voces Oral History Project – University of Texas Libraries.  It’s about documenting the contributions of U.S. Latinos and Latinas of the WWII, Korean War and Vietnam War generations and creating a better awareness of these contributions.  My understanding was that this was the first workshop of its kind which the organization had hosted.  The room was filled with curious and enthusiastic people.  I was very excited about the whole idea and couldn’t wait to get more information.

The workshop covered topics such as interviews with veterans that had already been completed, how to conduct interviews and how to capture the interviews electronically, equipment needed, and then there was a panel discussion including people who were already conducting and documenting interviews.  I was overwhelmed by the whole scene.  The idea seemed incredibly beautiful to me, and I wondered how I had never heard of this organization before.  My emotions were running wild.

Voces is a small grassroots non-profit doing great works of humanity with minimal funding and minimal staffing.  They operate on volunteer efforts primarily.  To sit in the room and hear the passion that the other individuals have for the project was extremely moving.  It wasn’t long into the workshop when I knew I needed to do this also, and I needed to start with my own family stories.  This was all happening at a time shortly after a serious illness with my mother in which we almost lost her.  My grandmother had instilled strong family connections and values in us all.  I already believe that life is short, this only confirmed it.  Some of the stories people told in the workshop described how they had interviewed a veteran and then shortly afterwards, the person passed away.  They had captured the story just in time, before losing it forever.

Despite my desire to get started immediately, I was still the primary caregiver to my elderly, ill mother, work was demanding, and I have 3 children and a grand baby whose lives I enjoy being an active part of.  So I had to put this endeavor on the back-burner for the time being.  In the meantime, I began taking courses at the local community college, in the humanities, including workshops on different subject matters held on 2nd Saturdays of each month.  Much to my surprise and delight, one of the topics was Oral Histories & Latina/Latino’s WWII Contributions.  Here it was, being brought back to the forefront of my journey.  The spark within me was reignited.   I’m ecstatic about the timing of it all, introduction to the project from the first workshop, the classes in the humanities subject matters that I’m currently taking, which are teaching me much needed information that will play a vital role in my family oral history project and beyond, and the 2nd Saturday presentation which brought it back to life for me, sooner rather than later.

I have contacted my Uncle who participated in the Vietnam War, told him about the project, and asked if he’d be interested in and willing to do an interview with me.  He agreed wholeheartedly.  We have an appointment scheduled for tonight to begin discussing the logistics.  Once I have conducted and documented the interview with him, I will move on to another Uncle.  I have already lost one Uncle so in his case I’ll be interviewing the family, my cousins and my aunt.  I know that, as is certain to happen, this will grow within my family and I’ll be able to get extremely valuable stories and information about our family members.  Often, people don’t realize the significance of this, they don’t believe that they or their stories are important enough, or just don’t have the time, means, and knowledge to take on this type of project.  I am happy to do it.  I feel honored to have this exquisite opportunity.

In addition to submitting these documentations to the Voces organization, I will post them on my blog.  I am excited about watching this particular section of my blog grow, because it means that I’m doing my part in capturing the powerful stories of these people who were willing to put their life on the line for all of us.  I believe that the contributions of these individuals to our history, is magnificent beyond words.  What an incredible journey and adventure!!

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