Wednesday, May 30, 2012

First Pre-Travel Class

The 2012 Navajo Oral History Project held its first class meeting on Tuesday, May 29.  This is a "Pre-Travel Class" through which the students meet each other and begin research about the Navajo culture and general journalism topics in preparation for the field work that begins next week.

10 Diné College students gathered in an Interactive Television (ITV) classroom at the DC Main Campus in Tsaile, Arizona, and connected with 12 Winona State University students in a WSU classroom in Winona, Minnesota.


Each student introduced themselves in the traditional Navajo way, giving their names then their clans. For the WSU students, this meant speaking about their mother and father's family names and heritage, then grandparents names and heritage. Many of the Diné College students introduced themselves in the Navajo language and then translated.

The class leaders are Dr. Miranda Haskie, professor of Sociology and Behavioral Sciences at Diné College; Dr. Tom Grier, professor of Mass Communication, Winona State University, and Mr. Robbie Christiano, a recent WSU Mass Communication graduate, current graduate student and teaching assistant for the course.

Each class leader spoke of their vision for the class and introduced concepts to begin preparing students to build positive working relationships with each other and to develop skills related to journalism and visual journalism.


Two more ITV-based classes will occur this week, then the WSU students will travel to the Navajo Nation where they will spend nearly three weeks in the field conducting research and interviews centered on a Navajo elder, with the ultimate goal of creating Living History documentaries about each elder.

This blog will be updated almost daily throughout the project, allowing family and friends to follow the class process.  In the future, student-produced photos and words will be featured here frequently.

In the near future, there will be a blog post which introduces each student and faculty member with a mugshot-style photo so readers can get to know the class members.

The blog is hosted and produced by Dr. Tom Grier.  Occasionally in writing the blog, I may slip into first-person narration style narration (as I did just there... and there again).  When that happens, you'll know it's me talking.  Photos on the blog are by Tom Grier, unless otherwise credited -- my preference is for you to see many photos credited to the excellent visual journalists that are part of this project.

I encourage blog-readers to "favorite or bookmark" the blog, and check in often, or register as a "follower" of the blog to get reminders when the blog is updated. Share the blog address as far and wide as you wish so interested people can follow the hard work, dedication of the students as well as the fun they have during this adventure. In addition, you can read further down the blog-- into the past-- and see what previous classes have done. This is the fourth year of the Navajo Oral History project!

Finally, the blog is open for reader comments. Feel free to share your thoughts and questions here. The students appreciate knowing the blog is being read and love hearing reader comments.

Thanks for your interest and support of this important project.

-- Dr. Tom Grier, WSU

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