Starting this project, I knew that I loved listening to and sharing stories; however, I was unsure what the final outcome would be. After reading an extensive amount of scholarly literature on how to conduct an ethical academic interview, I was nervous that I would be unable to meet the high standards set by these scholars I had read.
Deciding on who to interview was a nerve-wracking process and took much more time than I had anticipated. Although, the course readings reflected on this decision they were not able to fully capture the intensity of the process that I had experienced. The Raleigh Yow readings extensively outline the “traditional” methodology for recording oral histories, which emphasized multiple steps leading up to the interview; such as question generating, initial research, and multiple pre-interview meetings, and reaching out to other potential respondents (2005). Although this is generally sound advice for recording oral histories, my methodology did not take this tedious route. Going into this process I did not know who I was going to interview and I relied extensively on the contacts of Professor Gutierrez. Through mutual friends Professor Gutierrez and I found the Olivenica’s. I generated my interview questions before I had the chance to meet the Olivencia’s and completed brief research on the history of Argentina. Furthermore, in the early stages of setting up interviews I learned to be patient and flexible with busy schedules. Due to having conflicting schedules and going on vacation during the pre-interview phase I was unable to have a meeting for the interviews began. I felt like the stakes were heightened in order to produce a solid and comfortable repertoire with Jose, because many of the readings emphasized making the narrator comfortable (Raleigh Yow 2005).
I was very fortunate that Jose, as well as Betty, felt comfortable enough with me at the first meeting to share his personal stories. I was also nervous about juggling two narrators at once, but now I firmly believe that Betty’s voice only provides more clarity and support to Jose’s story, especially in sections related to their lives together. Jose taught me lessons that I will never forget and especially when I feel like I am at a crossroad in my life. The one lesson that has reverberated in my mind since the second interviews is to not let pride take over reasoning, to relax, wait, take a deep breath and count to ten. Hearing this from a person who has faced stressful and difficult situations and has let these obstacles help shape his success is nothing short of inspiring. From their stories I was able to learn how to interpret the meaning behind experiences and how as a “questioner” I interjected myself into the meaning making process (Raleigh Yow 2005). I am thankful for the patience of the Olivencia’s for allowing me to practice my budding anthropological skills with them and I hope from this experience that I can continue to enhance my in-depth interview methodology.
Yow, V. (1994). Recording oral history: A practical guide for social scientists. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications.