Students prepare for the “Great Thanksgiving Listen” with their grandparents
Students prepare for the “Great Thanksgiving Listen” with their grandparents Gabriella Rinehart interviews great-grandmother Mae Ridge on Friday, Nov. 27, 2015, in the kitchen of Ridge's home in Leitersburg, Md. (AP Photo/David Dishneau)
Students prepare for the “Great Thanksgiving Listen” with their grandparents
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The sage advice "listen to your elders" has new meaning for thousands of kids this Thanksgiving.
After weeks of classroom training, they're prepared to interview a grandparent or elder, posing questions such as, "How would you like to be remembered?" or "Has your life been different from what you imagined?"
Then they share those intimate conversations with the world through an unprecedented effort conceived by the nonprofit oral history project StoryCorps.
StoryCorps president and founder Dave Isay calls it the "Great Thanksgiving Listen," and says it is a unifying moment for the nation. He hopes to double, in one long weekend, the 65,000 audio recordings StoryCorps has collected since 2003.
"This is for future generations to hear," Isay said. "It's a gift to be listened to in this way and it's a gift to share your story and wisdom."
The recordings are stored in a publicly accessible archive at the Library of Congress' American Folklife Center in Washington. Recordings made for the Thanksgiving project can be heard on, a website that also contains the free smartphone app students will use to record and upload their interviews.
Gabriella Rinehart is a senior at Washington County Technical High School in Hagerstown, Maryland.  She plans to interview her 89-year-old great-grandmother, Mae Ridge.
"She's lived through a lot of big changes in U.S. history," Rinehart said.
Rinehart's teacher is Carol Mowen.  She hopes her students will be "overwhelmed by the power of the story." That's how Mowen said she often feels listening to edited versions of StoryCorps interviews.  They are aired weekly on National Public Radio's "Morning Edition."
"As an English teacher, that's what we live for," she said.
In Chicago, Yuliza Ruiz plans to interview her older brother, Emilio.  She wants him to talk about his decision to join the Marines.
"I want to ask him about his goals," she said.
Some kids already have posted interviews, which can run up to 40 minutes long. Listening to them is like eavesdropping on conversations that can enlighten and surprise.
Claude Gange, of Warwick, Rhode Island, said he and his wife Camille told their 13-year-old granddaughter, Lauren Bonner, things they never shared with her before. He told her about the last time he saw his mother alive in Brooklyn.  It was two days before she was killed by a car.
The conversation deepened his relationship with his granddaughter, said Gange, a retired school administrator. "I'm not just a grandfather. I'm a person."
Annabelle Tipps, of Henderson, Texas, interviewed her mom, Deborah, and learned how her mother and her siblings dealt with their parents' divorce.
"A lot of questions led to questions that opened up a lot of doors that I didn't even know were there," said Annabelle, 14.
Annabelle's advice to others: "Just do 'em before you forget or before it's too late because they're really cool and it's something you can have forever."

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What is gained by recording the voices of older people instead of merely writing down their words?
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • annabel1226-yyca
    12/01/2015 - 07:30 p.m.

    I think it will be hard for students to stay in the chair and talk with their grandparents. I think it would be hard for me. It would be a good experience too. I think it will be a good experience because your grandparents would tell you their childhood. I think we should all listen to our grandparents even if it is a boring stuff. I think it will be a memory.

  • taylorl-3-bar
    12/04/2015 - 12:44 a.m.

    Some things that can be gained by recording the voices of older people are you to feel the power of the story that made Thanksgiving a holiday. I chose this article because I loved the story behind Thanksgiving and I want people who are poor and don't know, to learn about it.

  • Eric0221-YYCA
    2/09/2016 - 08:30 p.m.

    The students might have wanted to prepare for a great thanksgiving listen to their grandparents because people might have wanted to share their thanksgiving listen to their grandparents that they would get things to remember. The people might have wanted to get their grandparents to be remembering things that they had never been shared to before because people might have wanted to get things to remember to them. The students might have wanted grandparents to be getting them to be remembering things in the past when they aren't shared to someone else that knew what happened that they didn't tell them yet in the past. People might have used the great Thanksgiving listen because people might have wanted to get grandparents to remember things that nobody else hadn't told them in the past.
    Critical Thinking Question: What is gained by recording the voices of older people instead of merely writing down their words?
    Answer: Because recording can easily get saved because something that is written down can easily get lost after a long time.

  • crisf-fil
    9/30/2016 - 08:25 p.m.

    "lesson to your Elders," they said well in all honestly lessoning to your elders is a really good thing because they lived more then use and they have been true so many more things the use, it shows in the article just people lessoning to there conversations, you learn so much things about life and how its gonna treat you and how your gonna have to go true it because we are all humans.

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