Germanacos Fellowship for Sharing History

From 2016 through 2020, the Germanacos Foundation generously supported a special fellowship for teachers exploring oral history projects in the classroom.

Through the VOW’s Sharing History Initiative, select participants were chosen for their passion and commitment to their students and the power of storytelling. Fellows started groundbreaking new projects, completed or enhanced ongoing projects, and creatively explored oral history-based storytelling. Each Fellow was selected based on criteria including classroom or community need, a demonstrated commitment to advocacy and innovation, and the capacity for building empathy-based learning experiences.

Germanacos Fellows received:

  • $1,200 to cover project expenses
  • 20 hours of direct support time from the VOW education staff and learning community
  • Opportunities for collaborative learning and professional development within a small, tight-knit cohort of Germanacos Fellows

Veronica and Nathalie worked together to create a cookbook with their AVID EXCEL students, who are classified as long-term language learners and come together to create a diverse classroom. The students used oral history interviews to learn what food means to their relatives and community members, compiling the stories and recipes in to a beautiful cookbook that was printed and shared with their narrators.

James Lick Middle School

San Francisco, CA

Ria and her two classes of 10th graders have been learning about the stories of refugees in the US and in their own neighborhoods, and the students will be creating a resource guide for newcomers to the Bay Area based on interviews conducted with local organizations that serve these communities. The work combines their social justice curriculum with practical applications of their new skills.

Latitude High School

Oakland, CA

Rebecca and Chela collaborated with other teachers and VOW on a curricular unit for long-term language learners in the Oakland Unified School District. They are piloting parts of the oral history unit as a narrative project with their own students, focusing on stories of gentrification in their neighborhoods and how it affects their own communities.

Coliseum College Prep Academy

Oakland, CA

Matt is creating an oral history-based course that will be repeated every other year and allow students to develop research projects based on the needs of their interviews. The students will partner with local organizations or identify members of their own community to highlight.

John O’Connell High School

San Francisco, CA

Michael has partnered with VOW and Sequoia Senior Living to create an intergenerational, oral history arts project that connects high school students and senior citizens in the same San Francisco neighborhood. The project creates space for students and seniors to build relationships together and learn from each other in a
creative process.

Ida B. Wells Continuation High School

San Francisco, CA


As the demographics in Hayward continue to shift, Maria is keenly aware of how many of her students feel left behind and worry about finding space for their cultural identities. She plans on helping students amplify each other’s voices within their community, culminating in an event where students will share their stories in public readings and experiences with a wider audience.

Impact Academy of Art and Technology

Hayward, CA

Oliver works with a particularly diverse population in his community college, where new high school graduates and returning adult students mingle and share life experiences within his classroom. His California History course always focuses on the social justice side of history in this state, and Oliver plans on centering his students and their families within the curriculum through oral history. He also plans on collaborating with other educators within the San Joaquin Valley, to create curriculum that can be shared and utilized at other sites.

Bakersfield College

Delano, CA

Brian works solely with English language learners at his school, primarily with students who have the language level to communicate but struggle with authentically sharing their story in a foreign language. He hopes to use oral history to give them a tool to share their own stories and those around them, so they may see themselves as writers and creators first and foremost. He plans to host a podcast for students to practice their speaking and listening and narrative storytelling skills, while having a shareable product that other language learners in the district can listen to for inspiration and learning.

East Bay Arts High School

San Lorenzo, CA

Evan is a returning Fellow from the 2017-18 school year, but he will be working on a special collaboration with Oakland High this year as part of an initiative to increase college attendance rates in the Oakland school district. His students will be advanced English language learners, and he will continue using oral history as a language learning and cultural sharing tool. He hopes to host a podcast, led by students interviewing each other about their sense of community in Oakland and within their country of origin, and wants to share this podcast district-wide to highlight the diversity of Oakland and its student population.

Laney College & Oakland High School

Oakland, CA

Nooshi’s Advanced Oral Communication course contains a special unit on immigration, a topic that most of her students have experienced, as they come from a diverse range of countries and academic histories. Each year, they interview immigrants to the U.S. about their experiences and their unique perspective of the U.S. Nooshi hopes to use this Fellowship to share these stories more widely, and give her students more tools for representing their narrator’s story in creative ways.

Contra Costa College

San Pablo, CA


Jennifer and her students created a website to provide Inland Empire residents a platform for sharing their stories. Her first class interviewed and uploaded eight narratives. Together with other educators in Perris and Moreno Valley, Jennifer hopes to continue spreading the practice of oral history and amplifying more voices in the next year. Check out the oral histories at:

Moreno Valley College

Moreno Valley, CA

Evan and his ESOL classes produced two different projects, using oral history to improve their listening and speaking skills. In the first semester, students from over a dozen different countries interviewed each other and shared their stories on stage at Laney College’s theatre. In the second semester, a fellow Laney student produced a video of student interviews. Check out the films here: Monday’s Compilation / Tuesday’s Compilation

Laney College

Oakland, CA

Jennifer designed an “opt-in” oral history project for her students, responding to the way her students enjoyed learning and reflecting on narratives they read last year. She brought a guest speaker from Southwestern University’s Latina History Project, which is building an archive of oral histories, and this experience inspired students to interview important people in their own lives and represent their stories through art. The students shared their projects at a community event, inviting their families and narrators to experience their stories.

Leander Middle School

Leander, TX

Frank and his Mexican American History class published Veteran Voices Project: Honoring the Experiences and Perspectives of Local Latino Veterans, in partnership with the San Benito County Arts Council and the Community Media Access Partnership. His students interviewed thirteen local veterans, sharing stories of their challenges both on the battlefield and returning home, and each student walked away with valuable lessons from their time spent with this overlooked community. Read more about the book launch here.

San Benito High School

Hollister, CA

Maria hosted an elective course at her high school for students who wanted to participate in an oral history project outside of regular classroom hours. The students interviewed family members and friends about significant moments in their lives using music as the base to ground their interview. In their final projects, students combined the music referenced in their interviews with the stories their narrators shared, creating unique representations of their narrator’s relationship with individual songs.

Las Lomas High School

Walnut Creek, CA


Tina & Samved and their class of English Language Development students published a book of narratives from San Lorenzo community members, reflecting on the city’s history and current issues. They also hosted a community roundtable to discuss the city’s rapidly changing demographics between their new immigrant students and longtime citizens. Click here to watch a video about their project and their book launch.

Arroyo High School

San Lorenzo, CA

Chris & Lisa worked with their Stagg VOW class to publish a book called Anatomy of Empathy. Students interviewed peers, teachers, and community members with a special focus on current events. Students learned to center the person behind the issue. Click here to check out the Stagg VOW class website.

Amos Alonzo Stagg High School

Palos Hills, IL

Elizabeth worked with her tenth grade class to produce a film featuring the oral narratives of 45 students. They spent months interviewing, writing, and editing their narratives for this 65-minute film, depicting a broad array of topics and family histories, including border crossings, domestic violence, and incarceration. Click here to watch the film.

Monte Del Sol Charter School

Santa Fe, NM

Von’s students conducted interviews with their local relatives and community members, many of whom are immigrants. The students shared the stories they collected at an on-campus event, where Von stressed the need for empathy and sensitivity when addressing political and social issues like immigration. He is currently working on a website to feature his students’ narratives.

Clovis Community College

Fresno, CA


When I think of the project at the end, you could just tell that the students were really invested. And really taking the chance in interviewing someone they may have not known before.

Von Torres, Clovis Community College, Fresno, CA

No one actually said, ‘My family’s undocumented.’ They just talked about experiences. They were all aware of it, but they just got into it and were really proud of their stories and wanted to tell everyone where their family had come from.

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