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home : community : community Wednesday, May 22, 2019

10/17/2017 2:01:00 PM Email this articlePrint this article 
Immigrant Story Project

By Amy Doeun

"We believe that everyone has a story to tell. We want to put the power of storytelling into the hands of ordinary people. Anyone can make a digital story." Says the introduction to the video, "What's Your Immigrant Story?" on the University of Minnesota's Immigration History Research Center website.

"In 2013, the Immigration History Research Center launched the Immigrant Stories project to collect contemporary migration stories through digital storytelling and preserve them in the IHRC (Immigration History Research Center) archives. Immigrant Stories grew out of recent IHRC research projects which used digital humanities tools to expand access to the Archives and to preserve 'born digital' historic materials." The library has been recording the histories of immigrants for over 50 years.

The digital media unlike written or photographic media, captures a person's voice and intonations and in some cases mannerisms and expressions. It saves this information for future generations and allows participants to, "determine both the form and content of their stories. We encourage participants to recount a story that they feel comfortable sharing publicly and would like preserved for future generations. Participants write their own story, record an audio voiceover, and select images (such as personal photos, family documents, and original music) to create a brief video."

In addition to stories of first generation immigrants and refugees (people born outside the U.S.) the project records the stories of immigrants as shared by the children and grandchildren, it has also been used, "by international students, international adoptees, and people who do not feel that their stories fit a particular (or just one) category. There is not one way to tell an immigrant story because there is no single story that represents all immigrants and their histories."

Recently the University announced that their story making, video making website, www.immigrantstories.umn.edu, has now been translated into and is available in 7 languages - English, Spanish, Chinese, German, French, Swedish and Arabic.

Individuals can use the website to create their own stories. It is a "free tool only requiring a computer or mobile device connected to the internet."

"We also provide free Immigrant Stories Curriculum. 1) Making Immigrant Stories: Educators can use our guides to help others make their own digital stories in public workshops or classes for high school students, college students, and English language learners. 2) Teaching Immigration with the Immigrant Stories project: We have collaborated with the Advocates for Human Rights to create lessons about immigration for grade 8-adult learners."

The stories will be preserved through the IHRC Archives and will, "ensure that they will be publicly accessible for future generations." They are also available through Minnesota Digital Library and the Digital Public Library of America.

St. Paul, MN



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