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During the COVID19 crisis, we find ourselves in a unique circumstance of being stuck under our own roofs - many of us with our families. This is a great opportunity to hear and share family stories. Is immigration a part of your family’s story? Where did your ancestors come from and when?

Join the CRC Office of Social Justice in dusting off these stories while we stay home for a while by contributing to the “Immigration Is Our Story” series.

About the Immigration Is Our Story Audio Series

The Christian Reformed Church in North America was established by Reformed immigrants from the Netherlands. We are a denomination with a unique story, which has grown to include the backgrounds and immigration stories of many others of different nationalities and ethnicities.

Through a series of “Immigration is Our Story” interviews collected in 2019, Reformed and Christian Reformed church members and friends from across North America told their families’ immigration stories to help us remember our largely immigrant identity and encourage us to pursue justice and welcome for our immigrant neighbors among us today.

The OSJ wants to use this unique, homebound time to add your family’s story to this collection!

How to Participate:

Pick the interviewee and interviewer

  • Determine who in your family would know the story best - they will be the “interviewee.” If you can’t physically be with the interviewee for this project (for example, a grandparent living in a nursing facility that you cannot visit because of the Coronavirus), don’t worry - you can record the conversation over the phone.

  • Choose an “interviewer.” Similar to the format of StoryCorps interviews (see an example here), these interviews should be conducted by a loved one of the interviewee - for example, a daughter interviewing her mother, or a grandson interviewing his grandmother. 

Prepare the content of the interview

  • Tell the interviewee ahead of time what the questions are so that the interview can run smoothly, with minimal pauses.

  • Questions for the interviewer to ask the interviewee (for continuity of the audio series, please be sure to ask these three questions - but feel free to rephrase them and/or ask additional questions as you see fit):

    • How has immigration been a part of your/our family’s story?

    • What challenges did your/our family face as immigrants? What opportunities were you/they given as immigrants?

    • Did the immigration laws and processes at the time make it easy or difficult for you/our family to come here?

Prepare to record the interview

  • Easy Voice Recorder is a simple, straight-forward app for audio recordings. Please download this app onto your mobile device to use for your interview.

  • Arrange a time and place when both interviewer and interviewee will be relaxed, uninterrupted, and with minimal to no background noises. Small to medium sized rooms with carpeting, furniture, and soft surfaces that absorb noise work best. Avoid large rooms with hard surfaces, lots of windows, and/or running appliances.

  • Interviewer should ensure their mobile device is fully charged.

If the interview will be over the phone

  • Set all sound notifications on your mobile device to silent so that there are no disruptions to the recording.

  • Call the interviewee and set the call to speakerphone for the recording.

  • Do a test recording first to ensure both voices on both ends of the phone are being picked up clearly. 

If the interview will be in person

  • Set your device to airplane mode to eliminate any interruptions to the recording.

  • For best sound quality, make sure your device’s microphone is always pointed towards the person speaking; the interview pair should sit close together.

  • Do a test recording first to ensure the microphone works and both voices are being picked up clearly.

Conduct the interview

  • Start the recording with an introduction.

    • Interviewer: “My name is ____ and today is (day, month, date, year). I am speaking with my ____, (name), and we are recording this interview in (city, state).”

    • Interviewee: “My name is _____ and I am here to share my/my family’s immigration story.”

  • For the interviewer: ask the prepared questions listed above - as well as any additional questions - and listen closely; don’t hesitate to ask any follow up questions for more information or details - just like you would in having a regular conversation!

  • Try to keep the interview brief - if your recording is chosen to be a part of the series, it will likely be edited down to no longer than 5 minutes.

  • At the end of the interview, the interviewer should take a moment to tell the interviewee what they mean to him/her and what it meant that they shared their story; thank them.

Share the recording and photos with the OSJ

  • Please title the recording something that is easily identifiable for our team (for example, “Immigration Interview: Melissa Stek and her father David Stek”).

  • From the Easy Voice Recorder app, share the recording with [email protected] either via Gmail as an email attachment or Google Drive.

  • Please send photographs that can be used with the audio recording for the final product (see example here). These can be:

    • photos of the interview while it’s happening,

    • Past photos of the interviewer and interviewee, and/or

    • other family photos that relate to the immigration story.

  • Share the photos with [email protected] 

Depending on the number of entries, we may not be able to edit and publish every recording submitted to us to be a part of the Immigration Is Our Story series. If your interview is chosen by our team, these audio recordings will be shared on the Office of Social Justice website, Facebook, and YouTube channel.

We look forward to hearing from you! Happy storytelling!

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