In summer of 2016, the VOW Education Program launched the Germanacos Fellowship for Sharing History, which provides support for outstanding Sharing History Initiative participants to explore groundbreaking new oral history projects with their students.

Thanks to the generosity of the Germanacos Foundation, we were able to support five fellows with funding for project materials and specialized guidance from the VOW education team. We worked closely with them to help them develop and refine their projects, further their own curricular and artistic goals, and push the boundaries of oral history-based storytelling.

We are thrilled to present some of the projects that the 2016-17 fellows have developed with their students, and to celebrate the inspiring work that the Germanacos Fellowship has made possible.

Elizabeth Tidrick, Monte del Sol Charter School, Santa Fe, NM

Jacob from Monte del Charter School shares his story for a class video

Jacob from Monte del Sol Charter School shares his story for a class video

Elizabeth Tidrick worked with her tenth grade class at Monte del Sol Charter School to produce a film featuring the oral narratives of forty-five students. Elizabeth’s students spent months writing, re-writing, filming, and editing their stories. The process culminated in a 65-minute film that depicts a broad array of experiences related to topics including border crossing, drug addiction, domestic violence, and incarceration.

Elizabeth expresses gratitude to the Germanacos Foundation and Sharing History Fellowship for allowing her the opportunity to make this an annual project and extend the reach of empathy-based education to students for years to come.

Watch the video here.

Von Torres, Clovis Community College, Fresno, CA

Von in Action at Clovis Community College

Von in action at Clovis Community College

Von Torres worked with students in his English 1A courses at Clovis Community College to conduct interviews with their family members and community members, many of whom are immigrants. They shared the stories at an on-campus event in May 2017.

Because he works in a very diverse area, Von emphasizes the need for empathy and sensitivity when addressing political and social issues like immigration. He says he strongly believes in the power of using oral narratives in the classroom to help students produce counter-narratives for misrepresented or underrepresented communities. He is currently working on a website to publicly share the oral narratives that his students collect and document.

Tina Eng & Samved Sangameswara, Arroyo High School, San Lorenzo, CA

Samved with his students

Samved with his students

Tina Eng and Samved Sangameswara worked with their students at Arroyo High School to publish a book that features student interviews with community members as well as their reflections on a student-hosted community roundtable discussion about the history of San Lorenzo and the city’s rapidly changing demographics. Tina and Samved will be celebrating the publication of their book at a community event featuring readings of the students’ collected oral narratives on Tuesday, June 6, 2017 at Arroyo High School. contact erin@voiceofwitness.org for more details.

Lisa Thyer & Chris Wendelin, Amos Alonzo Stagg High School, Palos Hills, IL

Christopher Wendelin and Lisa Thyer worked with students in their Voice of Witness class to publish a collection of stories called Anatomy of Empathy. Students interviewed students, teachers, and staff from the Stagg High School community for the book.

One student in the VOW class says, “We think this book will open people’s eyes to topics they usually ignore, like loss. Loss is a topic that makes people uncomfortable, so normally people avoid talking about it, but our narrators opened up about their experiences. This might shed light on topics all people experience but won’t talk about.

To learn more about their work, visit the Stagg VOW website or follow them on Twitter.

Congratulations to all of the Germanacos Fellows and their students for creating such powerful oral narratives projects! We are so excited to see the continued work you do with empathy-based education in your communities in the years to come.

New Germanacos Fellows are being selected for the 2017-18 school year, so stay tuned for updates about new storytelling projects born from the continuation of the fellowship!