Having the privilege to do an oral history about Maria’s provided insight into another person’s life. At first I must admit I was hesitant. I felt incapable of taking someone’s life story and turning it into my own interpretation. I was worried that I would not do her life justice, or that I would not create a story in which she would enjoy. That fear of creating a bad interpretation deals a lot with shared authority. We read an article in class titled Sharing Authority, by Linda Shopes, and she went in depth on shared authority and the problems that it can cause. In my oral history I had pretty much all the authority on how to put it together, Maria even told me that I can decide what to leave out and leave in. This made it easier on me to put together because I did not have to constantly run things by her or change things because she did not like them.
However, after many helpful class discussions and readings I felt more comfortable with it. In class we read an article titled Death of Luigi by Portelli, this article was very helpful in putting someone’s truth in perspective. A lot of people in my class had a problem with talking about something that could be potentially untruthful. However, after reading the article I realized that everyone’s interpretation to events are different, so that does not make them right or wrong.
I never realized how much goes into making an oral history. You have to complete IRB training, have a signed consent form, and the questions you ask must be thoughtful. Maria made the interview process very easy, she was really talkative which made it easier to put her story together soundly.
The most gratifying accomplishment was being able to tell someone’s life story that might have never been told. I thought I knew Maria well since we were in class together, but I was wrong. I learned about her passions and what she had to endure to get where she is today. An aspect of her life that struck me the most was the path through medical school that led her to become the family-oriented woman she is today.
Maria’s path through medical school struck me the most out of her story. She was faced with discrimination and was still determined to continue on. While most people now probably would not blink an eye at a pregnant medical student, that wasn’t the case for her. She was not allowed to pump on hospital grounds while going through residency and she was also judged by the doctors in which she did rounds with. But she didn’t waiver, she continued doing the best she could under the conditions placed upon her. Through this however, she found a calling. She is pro-abortion and had wonderful opportunities to perform some after being taken under a doctor’s wing. From my standpoint as the interviewer, I have heard about discrimination in the work place, but I have never realized how awful and ridiculous it can be.
While dealing with medical school and all its downfalls, Maria was also trying to raise a baby girl. She was often torn between work and family because she wanted to best for her daughter. Around the time of September 11th, Maria finally made a choice between family and work, and family won. She left medicine- a career path that had been picked for her since birth, to raise three beautiful girls.
Interviewing Maria really opened my eyes to the fact that everyone has their own unique story and no one is quite like someone else. I feel like this knowledge will help me later on in life when I begin to meet different people of all backgrounds. You cannot lump certain groups of people together- because they’re stories are not the same.