Exploring the Power of Collective Storytelling and How it Helps Us Connect to the Fabric of Life
A lot of times, the books about history give a greater focus to an expert’s version of an event that a personal narrative. Both versions must be taken into consideration when considering the historical importance of the event. As such, two professors from The University of the Virgin Islands have set out on a mission to establish a better equality between two different types of narratives.
Thalassa Tonks as well as Molly Perry, who teach English at the St. Croix campus and the geography and history of St. Thomas of the Virgin Islands respectively, were recently awarded $, “Digital Humanities Advancement Grant” from the National Endowment for the Humanities in order to aid in their endeavors to develop and save individual narratives derived from the everyday. Ms. Perry said, “If you only rely on official reports, government or expert accounts of historical events, then you are missing a huge amount of the complexities of our lives.” The two will continue teaching students how to document and seek oral histories.
The development of a website to display accounts and make them accessible to anyone any time, is an aspect of the project called “Community Conversations: A Digitized Cultural Preservation Project that is located in the United States Virgin Islands.” This grant to this project is actually the third award that has been made for the same work. Prior Humanities and Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands grants have provided assistance in purchasing microphones, video recorders and lighting equipment and other items for use by students who are working on the project. While the major motivation of this initiative could be to protect the past of our culture it’s effects are greater.
Perry and Tonks both cited additional factors that are a contributing factor to the decline of humanities research. Tonks clearly stated that, “There’s a decline in humanities study.” They then elaborated upon this concept by explaining that collecting oral histories helps students become more engaged with the subject material. Perry explained, “A project such as it empowers students.” In addition, the group was informed that a lot of students in the first year of University of the Virgin Islands (UVIstudents require additional instruction and they feel they’re not speaking properly because they do not use their Virgin Islands dialiects. Tonks and Perry declared their intent to alter this narrative they said: “We want to flip the story.
The Professors expressed that students are extremely passionate about their current subjects of discussion and reflect their own personal accounts. They suggested that the next discussion topics could be based on Climate Change and Natural Disasters. This would allow Sciences courses to extend its scope. The student-training materials created by the professors who are developing and implementing in Social Sciences, Caribbean Geography, Cultural Geography and Caribbean History have been utilized to the fullest extent. However they are aware that they’re neither the first nor the only ones to initiate or develop an Oral History Project within the area of the designated region. As such they’ve formed connections with others who are undertaking the same task.
The researchers are well aware of the potential drawbacks in oral history research. They’ve taken care to prepare students for gathering and documenting data. This was done to help avoid these challenges. Perry said that it is important to cross-reference data. Perry said that there’s plenty of researches being done to study relationships between historical events and memories. There are still issues regarding the language used in developing oral histories for the Virgin Islands. This is due to memory accuracy issues.
In conclusion, we can find how Oral History projects like the one conducted by the mentioned professors offer a unique means to comprehend the Caribbean culture and its history. These projects are incredibly important in terms of preserving and understanding our past, as they allow us to gain knowledge not just from studying documents but also from hearing stories and personal stories from people who were a part of and lived historical events firsthand. Through efforts like these, we can continue to study our past as well as gain knowledge about our current culture and for generations to come.