Sharing Our Methodology: Oral History Workshop with Nearpod

At Voice of Witness, we not only work to share stories themselves, but we also believe it is crucial to share the methodology of our storytelling. By forging space for ethics-driven oral history practices—and embedding these values and processes into the culture within institutions—we are building the capacity for people to question whose voices are being heard, whose stories are being silenced, and what they can do about it.

VOW has facilitated numerous workshops and trainings over the years for a variety of organizations and companies. In 2022, the education platform Nearpod reached out to VOW to lead an oral history workshop for their staff, hosted by their Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) employee resource group. The goal of the workshop was to provide best practices for deep listening, inclusion, and ethical storytelling that their teams could integrate into their personal and professional lives to uplift voices in their own communities.

We tailored the program to honor both AAPI Heritage Month and the classrooms that Nearpod serves. Participants read a narrative excerpt from Oscar Ramos, a longtime educator who shared his challenging experiences teaching during the pandemic in VOW’s Unheard Voices of the Pandemic, and they listened to a podcast created by a Filipinx-American student who interviewed her lola (grandmother). In preparation for their own practice interviews, participants responded to prompts using the Nearpod platform to draw, write, and audio record their thoughts on how to create safe and brave spaces for each other.

In breakout rooms, staff were paired up to alternate being interviewer and narrator, using guided questions and their own curiosity to gather stories from their partner. Al Bako, art director at Nearpod and coordinator of the event, reflected:

It was helpful to see everyone’s responses on how to show empathy while listening. I had a really great conversation with my breakout group partner, and the topics got surprisingly deep in a short period of time.

Over the course of the workshop, Nearpod employees were able to hear new stories and see each other in a new light. They also learned how to take these oral history skills and translate them into their work and lives outside of the session. As Al noted, “That knowledge is so valuable, whether you’re interviewing a new staff member, getting closer to family, or listening to a friend vent.”

Participants spent time reflecting on how they currently approached meetings, whose voices were amplified at events, who was being invited into which rooms, and what it would mean to intentionally open these opportunities to more people.

Interested in working with VOW?

Through our consulting and services, Voice of Witness offers expert storytelling and program support to organizations, educators, advocates, and more. These consultancies emphasize the power of sharing stories and promote empathy, understanding, and action by building strong connections between people and communities. We work with clients to develop customized, interactive projects, workshops, and activities using VOW’s award-winning ethics-driven oral history methodology to advance their missions and promote positive social change.

Please contact Kathleen Brennan for more information.

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