Teens take part in "Great Thanksgiving Listen"
Teens take part in "Great Thanksgiving Listen" Sam Harmon, left, is interviewed by his grandson Ezra Awumey, right, while his daughter Vivian Awumey, back right, watches, inside StoryCorps soundproof booth. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Teens take part in "Great Thanksgiving Listen"
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Students are getting ready to head to their Thanksgiving break. With that break, here comes a big homework assignment. StoryCorps wants tens of thousands of teenagers across America to interview a grandparent or elder this Thanksgiving.  And upload their recordings to the Library of Congress.
 
The nonprofit oral history organization is asking high school history teachers to have their students record the interviews with StoryCorps' free smartphone app. Recordings sent to the library will become part of a publicly available archive. It will be kept at the American Folklife Center.
 
"The Great Thanksgiving Listen" is an assignment that will last for generations. That is according to StoryCorps founder Dave Isay.
 
"When young people do these interviews and they hit 'send' at end of the interview to the library, they know that their great-great-great-great-great-grandkids are going to get to eavesdrop on this conversation someday.  And get to understand where they come from, who their ancestors were," Isay said.
 
He hopes it becomes a yearly tradition. He wants it to bring families closer together by using modern technology to save the wisdom of elders.
 
The students could tap into memories of events dating back to the 1920s. But Isay said the stories are less important than the fact that two people are talking.
 
"The purpose of StoryCorps is to have the two people who have this conversation feel more connected with each other. And give the person who is being interviewed the chance to be heard," he said. "It's not so much what's in the stories as what the experience is like for the people who are recording."
 
Brandon Clarke is an administrator at the private Berkeley Carroll School in Brooklyn, New York. He is excited about the project. He said StoryCorps is headquartered near the school. They interviewed some of his teachers while creating a teacher's guide for the Thanksgiving project.
 
A couple weeks before the holiday, Berkeley Carroll students may get some classroom exercises aimed at sharpening their interview skills, Clarke said.
 
"How do you develop good questions? How do you go about conducting an interview? How do you build off of a really interesting response?"
 
But Isay said interviewing isn't hard. He said he has learned from listening to some of the 60,000 conversations StoryCorps has collected since 2003 that people are naturally good at it.
 
"It's just a matter of concentrating, being present, making sure you're in a quiet place," he said. "I think people understand the importance of the moment. And they treat it very seriously."
 
About 13 million radio listeners hear edited versions of StoryCorps interviews every Friday. It is heard on National Public Radio's "Morning Edition." StoryCorps also shares parts of recordings through animated videos, podcasts and its website. Those stories are largely chosen from the 5,000 interviews done yearly by visitors to StoryCorps' mobile recording booth. Or at its permanent booths in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Atlanta.
 
The StoryCorps app was released in March. Users have recorded and uploaded 10,000 interviews. The app was funded by a $1 million TED prize and a $600,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
 
Isay said the Thanksgiving project will help spread the idea that history comes from the bottom up. The idea was supported by the late Chicago writer, historian and broadcaster Studs Terkel.
 
Clarke agreed.
 
"This is a really great example of how oral history is really history," Clarke said. "For it to be legitimate history, it doesn't have to appear in print in a carefully edited book. Individual stories, individual perspectives are also part of history."

Source URL: https://www.tweentribune.com/article/tween56/teens-take-part-great-thanksgiving-listen/

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
What can be learned by talking to older people?
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COMMENTS (40)
  • madalyns-cal
    11/16/2015 - 07:03 p.m.

    You can learn how to learn about what is was like when your grandparents were little by talking to them. In the passage " The Great Thanksgiving Listen" they ask teenagers to talk to there grandparent about what it was like when they were younger. If I could do this for my Thanksgiving I would so I could get closer to my grandparents.

  • paigeg1-cal
    11/16/2015 - 08:54 p.m.

    Something that can be learned by talking to older people is how different the world was, and how different holidays were and other special events.The text sates "this is a really great example of how oral history is really history," Clarke said." when people do the interviews they send it to the library so they know their great-great-great-great-great-grandkids can eavesdrop on the conversation one day.

  • melissaj-Ste
    11/16/2015 - 09:26 p.m.

    Elderly folks have such a different outlook on life than the generation currently growing up. They are the generations that we read about in our history books, so sometimes I just want to know how they made it through tough times. My grandparents grew up deeply in love and I admire them for that. I'm sure there were times when they thought they wouldn't make it, yet they marched on. That is the best thing about elderly folks, they understand how to keep things working and fix what is "broken."

  • kendrac-cal
    11/16/2015 - 10:06 p.m.

    A lot can be learned by talking to older people,they can tell you so many amazing things about the past.They have the most wisdom out of all of us here today.My grandparents tell me so much it it amazing to hear and take in all at once. I would like to give a shout out to all older people and hoe they inspire earth and young people.

  • kayseak-cal
    11/16/2015 - 10:46 p.m.

    Well, a lot can be learned by talking to older people. Mostly because they were alive a lot longer and things were different from today. So we can learn history about basically everything that happened and what they remember.

  • piau-cal
    11/16/2015 - 10:47 p.m.

    What we can learn by talking to older people is what events went on that the younger people today did not experience.For instance the text states,"The students could tap into memories of events dating back to the 1920s." This will help people understand what life was like when their ancestors lived for many years.
    One question I would ask my grandparents or relatives when I see them on Thanksgiving is what they did to occupy their time before technology,internet,and television.

  • audreyw-cal
    11/16/2015 - 10:51 p.m.

    I would like to now about my grandpas history and i would ask like what did you do at thanksgiving but sadly he isn't with us anymore

  • emilys1-cal
    11/16/2015 - 10:53 p.m.

    Not to my interest

  • katec1-cal
    11/16/2015 - 11:20 p.m.

    What you can learn from talking to older people is that you can get advice and learn more about the past.We also can learn more about what the world was like when we were not alive. This is an example form the text that tells you that interviewing older people is a way to learn about the past. "This is a really great example of how oral history is really history." Clarke said.

  • mirandab-cal
    11/17/2015 - 11:06 a.m.

    By talking to older people, you can find out where you came from and who your ancestors were. You can also master your interview skills.

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