Monday, May 10, 2010

2010 Navajo Oral History Project Begins

Today (Monday, May 10), marks the beginning of the 2010 Navajo Oral History project collaboration between Winona State University and Diné College.

This morning, from 9 a.m. - 12 noon, the seven participating WSU students gathered on campus for a classroom session to prepare for this year's adventure. The group reviewed the goals for the program and double-checked the schedule and class details.

Students from last year's inaugural program helped get this year's students ready. Kim Streblow from the 2009 group wrote a nice letter to the current students, explaining some of the challenges they might encounter, but also inspiring them to be serious about the awesome responsibility to tell the elders' stories faithfully and accurately. Kim's letter was read aloud to the students since she was unable to attend in person.

Cory Hinz and Andrew Neumann from the 2009 group spoke in person to this year's students for more than an hour. They described their expectations last summer and what they learned. They talked about some unique things they learned about Navajo culture from working side by side with elders on service projects. They also described the interview process and some mistakes they made and how they reacted to the mistakes to ensure quality documentaries.

The 2010 students listened attentively and seemed to be taking it all in. I can already tell these students are ready to work hard, have fun, and tell great stories.

In a few days, they'll be traveling to live for two weeks in a completely different culture that's wholly situated within the United States. They may be a bit nervous because of the uncertainty of dealing with new and unfamiliar customs. But, they are young and resilient and dedicated, and I have no doubt they will make us all proud.

Here's a look at the WSU participants. (We'll meet the Diné College students on Monday.):
It's going to be another great year. I hope you'll all visit this blog often to keep updated on our progress.
-- Tom Grier
Winona State University - Mass Communication

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