Harrisonburg 360 Podcast: Real People. Real Stories. One Community. (Updated August 4)
Posted on: August 4, 2020
Over the course of the spring semester, eighteen JMU students in Dr. Allison Fagan’s English 360 class have been working diligently and passionately on a digital project that seeks to ethically elevate the stories of past and present immigrants living in the Shenandoah Valley community.
With the guidance and support of their teacher and multiple experts from the JMU Libraries, these students explored previously collected oral histories that have been archived in JMU Libraries’ Special Collections, learned about podcasting and storytelling, and applied theoretical concepts from the course to create a new podcast series called Harrisonburg360: Real People. Real stories. One Community. Student groups produced episodes and contextual information and shared them publicly via Harrisonburg 360 as their end-of-semester project. Starting at the end of May, each episode has also been shared weekly through all of your favorite podcasting platforms like iTunes, Spotify, and Google Podcasts!
Professor Fagan commented, “In many of my English courses, the focus is on storytelling by individuals and groups of people whose voices have historically been marginalized because of their race or citizenship status. We talk a lot about who has the power to tell a story, as well as who has the power to make sure that story is heard (or, in too many cases, not heard). The Special Collections at JMU Libraries has always enabled students to have a deeper understanding of those concepts, and in this case, it was the presence of local immigrant oral histories right at our fingertips that made the project possible. Starting with existing oral histories, students were able to explore and then learn by example, in turn conducting their own oral history interviews with Harrisonburg immigrants. In putting together their podcast episodes, mixing past and present recordings, the ultimate goal was for students to learn the difficult contours of agency in storytelling. They had to think about how they might amplify the voices of immigrant storytellers without speaking for them. I believe they accomplished that and more.”
Engaging in a digital project like this is no small task, especially when groups were no longer able to work face-to-face – but in spite of the upheaval of the semester, these students and their teacher remained committed to completing this creative community-focused project. And perhaps more than ever, we all need to be reminded of the stories that come from all voices in our community.
To learn more about this work and other JMU cross-disciplinary collaborations with the Harrisonburg immigrant community, visit the Immigrant Harrisonburg website.
Originally published on May 7, 2020. Updated July 30 with the video. Updated on August 4 to add quotation from Dr. Fagan.
Categorised in: JMU Libraries News