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East Greenwich High School Library: Interviews

The Importance of Telling Stories

What can you learn by listening to someone else's story?

An animated introduction to StoryCorps with Founder Dave Isay and his nephew. 

Kay Wang was a strong-willed grandmother who was reluctantly taken to a StoryCorps booth by her son and granddaughter. Though Kay resisted, she still had stories to tell—from disobeying her mother and rebuffing suitors while growing up in China to late-life adventures as a detective for Bloomingdale's department store. Kay passed away just weeks after that interview.

Allen Hoe was a combat medic in Vietnam. His oldest son, Nainoa K. Hoe, served as a first lieutenant infantry officer with the Army’s 3rd Battalion in Iraq. In January 2005, while leading his men through Mosul, Iraq, Nainoa was killed by sniper fire. He was 27. On Memorial Day in 2005, Allen traveled from Hawaii to Washington, D.C. for an event honoring Army nurses returning home from the war. He remembers meeting the Army nurse who had cared for his son after he had been shot and killed during combat in Mosul, Iraq.

  • Why is listening to others powerful for us personally?
  • Why is being listened to powerful for us personally?
  • Why is listening to others difficult sometimes?
  • What are some things we can do to make others feel like we’re really listening to them?

Great Questions

Great Interviews = Preparation!

  1. Choose a recording partner.  Who will you interview?
  2. Make a plan for interview day.  Reach out to your recording partner in advance to plan a date, location and time for your interview.
  3. Identify great questions to ask Look at the links to Great Questions on this webpage and the questions available within the StoryCorp app.
  4. Practice using the StoryCorps App.  Discuss privacy preferences with your recording partner.  You can publish the interview to the StoryCorps Archive or you can keep it personal.  The choice is up to your recording partner.

Four Tips for an Effective Interview (5 min.)
How to ask open-ended questions that help you guide your subject through personal stories and share in a great conversation.

How can you show that you're truly listening to the person you're interviewing?

DEFINITION OF ACTIVE LISTENING

  • ACTIVE LISTENING involves attentively seeking to understand a speaker’s message, rather than passively hearing the words that a speaker says.
  • ACTIVE LISTENERS provide verbal and nonverbal feedback to show their sincere investment in what the speaker is sharing.
  • ACTIVE LISTENING can help to build trust within a conversation, thereby allowing the speaker to communicate more easily, openly and honestly.

*Taken from StoryCorps, Inc.

Interviewing Tools

After the Interview

Remember to thank your recording partner for their time.  Now here are a few questions to consider:

  • How did your partner react to the interview experience?
  • How did you feel as an interviewer?
  • What challenges or surprises did you encounter, and how did you work to address them?
  • Did you have the chance to go “off script” and ask a follow-up question? If so, what question did you ask, and how did that change your interview?
  • What question evoked a particularly memorable response?
  • What did you learn that changed the way you previously thought about an event, person, or your recording partner?
  • What makes an interview different from a text as a historical reference?
  • What components contribute to differing perspectives of history?
  • What could future historians learn from listening to your interview?
  • What would you do differently if you were to conduct another interview?
  • Who else in your life would you like to interview?
  • What questions would you like to be asked in an interview?

The Great Thanksgiving Listen