The New Cultural Pluralism in the Shenandoah Valley Oral Histories, 1992-1993

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Summary Information

Repository:
Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University
Title:
New Cultural Pluralism in the Shenandoah Valley Oral Histories
Collection No.:
SdArch 8
Date:
1992-1993
Extent:
13 folders; 8 audiocassettes, .74 Cubic Feet
Language of the Material:
English
Abstract:
The New Cultural Pluralism in the Shenandoah Valley Oral Histories, 1992-1993, is comprised of 8 audiorecordings and 12 transcripts or summaries of interviews by undergraduate history intern, Theresa Staropoli, with individuals from the Shenandoah Valley who provide services to refugees and immigrants, and individuals representative of groups new to the area.

Preferred Citation

[identification of item], [box #, folder #], New Cultural Pluralism in the Shenandoah Valley Oral Histories, 1992-1993, SdArch 8, Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA.

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Bio/Historical Note

Oral histories were created by Theresa Starapoli, an undergraduate student at JMU, who completed the project as an intern in Special Collections in 1992. The internship was funded by a Burruss Grant.

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Scope and Content

This oral history series studies the immigration of various ethnic groups into the Shenandoah Valley, starting with a review of past history (see background paper). Records interviews of individuals who provide services to refugees; also interviews of individuals representative of groups new to the area. Shows how these people are maintaining their cultural identities and how they are adapting to mainstream Valley culture. Studies reasons why they left their homeland; why they settled in the Valley; how their cultures differ; what troubles they have had maintaining their cultures; and how they perceive their reception by local residents. Interviews conducted with seven individuals providing services for immigrants include: Rev. Joseph S. Roberson, Alex Flores, Marlene Webb, Marta F. de Meza, Laura Draim, Sam Ritchie, and Sheryl K. Wyse. Interviews of new immigrants include: Willie Chavez, Ana Sanchez and Efraim Sanchez-Garcia, Tanya and Sasha Reut, and Thu Huynh. Series of five articles from Daily news-record (Harrisonburg, Va.), Dec. 28-29, 1995 include: Valley Hispanics fare well at orchards, poultry plants / Bettina Tilson; Mexican natives find good, bad in America / Bettina Tilson; Few Hispanics appear on welfare rolls / Chris Edwards; Tax laws require immigrants to pay / News-record staff; Hispanics working to adapt to life as Valley residents / Chris Edwards. Article from July 27, 1996: Hispanic census: Service group places count below estimates, refutes job/tax stereotype / Julie Collins.

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Arrangement

Content is arranged in no particular order.

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Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Collection is open to research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the James Madison University Special Collections Library to use this collection.

Use Restrictions

The copyright interests in this collection have [or have not] been transferred to the James Madison University Special Collections Library. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library Reference Desk (library-special@jmu.edu).

Acquisition Information

Collection was donated by Theresa Staropoli on April 28, 1993.

Processing Information

Oral histories were cataloged at the item level in 1997; The descriptive metadata was compiled into a Finding Aid format in 2019. Audio recordings were transferred from audiocassette digital files by Kirsten Mlodynia, Digital Project Specialist at JMU Libraries in July 2018.

Location

Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University

880 Madison DriveMSC 1704Harrisonburg, Virginia 22807library-special@jmu.eduURL: https://www.lib.jmu.edu/special/

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Index Terms

Genre and Form

  • oral histories (literary works)

Geographic Name

  • United States -- Social conditions -- 1980-
  • United States -- Emigration and immigration -- Psychological aspects

Personal Name

  • Staropoli, Theresa

Subject

  • Multiculturalism -- Shenandoah River Valley (Va. and W. Va.)
  • Immigrants -- Shenandoah River Valley (Va. and W. Va.)
  • Hispanic Americans -- Shenandoah River Valley (Va. and W. Va.)
  • Russian Americans -- Shenandoah River Valley (Va. and W. Va.)
  • Assimilation (Sociology)
  • Acculturation
  • English language -- Study and teaching -- Foreign speakers
  • Children of immigrants -- Education
  • Literacy programs -- Virginia
  • Shenandoah River Valley (Va. and W. Va.) -- History -- 20th century

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Collection Inventory

Title/Description Instances
Background Paper: New Cultural Pluralism in the Shenandoah Valley, November 24, 1992 Box 1 Folder 1
Joseph Roberson, interviewed by Theresa Staropoli, November 1992

This interview records the viewpoints of Rev. Joseph S. Roberson, Program Coordinator, Virginia Council of Churches Refugee Resettlement Program. Explains purpose of the Refugee Resettlement Office, relations with other relief organizations (Church World Service, World Relief) and the Va. Dept. of Social Services. Mentions special emphasis placed on trying to place individuals persecuted for Christian beliefs. Comments on the refugee-immigration application and selection process from the standpoint of the refugee, the immigrating country, the U.S. government (incl. mention of the U.S. immigration law) and church organizations (such as his organization and its relation with sponsoring congregations in the area). Mentions numbers and variety of immigrants and their backgrounds (ex. Soviet Union, Hispanics and Ethiopia), including education and other related factors. Explains how the Resettlement Program tries to help support the refugees by providing interpreters, ESL (English as a second language) education opportunities, and other related services including providing entry-level job opportunities (ex. the poultry industry)

Original audiocassette, November 1992 Media Cabinet 1 Audiocassette SA008-CS-001
Transcript, November 1992 Box 1 Folder 2
Alejandro Flores, interviewed by Theresa Staropoli, November 30, 1992

This interview records the viewpoints of Alex Flores, Human Resources Coordinator, Rocco Turkeys Inc., Dayton, Va. Talks about the plant and its relations with various groups of immigrant employees. Mentions hiring and management practices (ex. the high turn-over rate for production jobs, starting pay, application numbers and other related figures; low absenteeism and work ethic). Gives information on numbers of immigrants and their nationality (Hispanic, from Mexicio and Central America; Ukrainians; Pakistanians; and Laotians). Explains efforts to help support the refugees by providing interpreters, ESL (English as a second language) education opportunities (ex. JMU/federal grant literacy van), and other related services; also Spanish classes for managers. Mentions the typical day for a worker. Refers to different cultural backgrounds, family structure, assimilation (or lack of it) among varying groups, both within the plant and outside of it. Mentions need for further expansion of services within the community. Recorded at Rocco Turkeys Inc., Dayton, Va. on November 30, 1992

Original audiocassette, November 30, 1992 Media Cabinet 1 Audiocassette SA008-CS-002
Transcript, November 30, 1992 Box 1 Folder 3
Marleen Webb, interviewed by Theresa Staropoli, January 15, 1993

This interview records the viewpoints of Marlene Webb, an ESL (English as second language) teacher. Talks about her experiences with immigrants at the Dayton Learning Center; also as a tutor. Mentions nationalities of students and how/when they came to the area (beginning with the Vietnamese; then Laotians and Cambodians; Hispanics, mostly from Mexico; and more recently, Russians.) Explains the purpose of ESL teaching; publishers and training materials; bilingualism; and the language barrier encountered by many. Refers to different cultural and educational backgrounds of various groups and changes in economic and social status. Also mentions the family structure, assimilation (or lack of it) and related adaptabilities of age levels (differences between children and adults). Mentions stereotyping; attitudes among the community at large and differences in cultural values and the general need for greater understanding by the community. Recorded at the home of Marlene Webb at 1372 Sparrow Court, Harrisonburg, Va., Jan. 15, 1993.

Original audiocassette #1, January 15, 1993 Media Cabinet 1 Audiocassette SA008-CS-003
Original audiocassette #2, January 15, 1993 Media Cabinet 1 Audiocassette SA008-CS-004
Transcript, January 15, 1993 Box 1 Folder 4
Willie Chavez (Guillermo O. Chavez), February 10, 1993

This interview records the viewpoints of Willie Chavez (and his wife) about life as recent immigrants in America. Talks briefly about his experiences in the U.S. before coming to the Valley; illegal alien/visa status and recent citizenship as a result of the 1987 amnesty. Mentions reasons for coming to this country; separation from his family. Talks about different jobs he's had (ranch hand in Texas and Oklahoma); more recently in Bridgewater, Va. at the Perdue Processing Poultry Plant. Mentions the language barrier and attempts to learn English (through general association with friends and co-workers). Compares his economic and work situation in Mexico and the U.S. Talks about the traditional structure of the Mexican family and cultural and educational assimilation of and changes in his two children. Briefly mentions discrimination; stereotyping and attitudes among the general community. His wife mentions the differences in the place of the woman in Mexican and American society. Recorded at the apartment of Willie Chavez and family (wife, two children and brother), in Bridgewater, Va., Feb. 10, 1993.

Original audiocassette, February 10, 1993 Media Cabinet 1 Audiocassette SA008-CS-005
Transcript, February 10, 1993 Box 1 Folder 5
Ana Sanchez, interviewed by Theresa Staropoli, February 23, 1993

This interview records the viewpoints of Mrs. Ana Sanchez and Mr. Efraim Sanchez-Garcia about life as immigrants/Mexican-Americans in the U.S. Ana talks about her first experience in this country at the age of thirteen, about going back and forth between the two countries, separation from family, attempts to stay in school, and about various jobs she has had across the country (Utah, Wisconsin, Virginia), among them as a migrant worker. Efraim mentions his job at the local Wampler poultry plant. Ana talks about the language barrier, the value of and attempts to learn English (through classes and general association with others); also mentions her experiences as a translator for others. She and her husband Efraim compare and contrast life in California and Virginia and why they prefer the latter (because of crime in Cal. and the fact that they want to develop English skills, which they are better able to do because there are fewer Spanish-speaking people in Va.). They mention the amnesty program which Efraim took part in; illegal alien status, and attempts to get a visa/resident alien card; also about Mexican passports and the border between Juarez, Mexico and El Paso, Texas. They also talk about the value of the traditional Mexican family and mention the cultural and educational assimilation of Mexican American children. Recorded at the trailer home of Mr. and Mrs. Sanchez and their two children, south of Harrisonburg, Va., Feb. 23, 1993.

Original audiocassette, February 23, 1993 Media Cabinet 1 Audiocassette SA008-CS-006
Transcript, February 23, 1993 Box 1 Folder 6
Sasha and Tanya Reut, interviewed by Theresa Staropoli, February 24, 1993

This interview records the viewpoints of Tanya and Sasha Reut about life as immigrants/Ukrainian-Americans in the U.S. Both were University-trained building engineers in the Ukraine, with little English; Sasha now works as a maintenance man at the Wampler poultry plant and Tanya works at Massanutten Ski Resort. They mention the language barrier and attempts to learn English (through classes and general association with others, etc). Compare and contrast life in the Ukraine and the United States and explain why they left the Ukraine (which ended up being a week before the 1991 independence coup); and talk about the process they went through to emigrate (American embassy in Moscow; Church World Services sponsorship). Also mention the current influence of crime/KGB/mafia in the Ukraine. Compare and contrast big cities in the U.S. with the Shenandoah Valley and Hinton, Va., with its Mennonite influence, etc. Talk about starting a business; freedom and educational opportunities for their two children. Mention the blending of Ukrainian traditions (ex. Christmas traditions, customs) and values with the American way of life. Recorded at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Reut and their two children, Hinton, Va., Feb. 24, 1993

Original audiocassette, February 24, 1993 Media Cabinet 1 Audiocassette SA008-CS-007
Transcript, February 24, 1993 Box 1 Folder 7
Thu Huynh (Am Thu Kieru Huynh), interviewed by Theresa Staropoli, March 17, 1993

This interview records the viewpoints of Ms. Thu Huynh about life as an immigrant/Vietnamese-American. Talks about the long process it took for her family to emigrate, starting with her brother (boat refugee). Explains reasons for leaving: economic situation and lack of freedom (government took over her father's business). Talks about the language barrier and attempts to learn English (through classes at the Dayton Learning Center and general association with others; also from her work at High's in Broadway, Va.) Mentions differences between cultures in Vietnam and U.S.: multi-ethnic language background (Chinese: Cantonese, Manchurian; Thai; Vietnamese); the place of women in Vietnamese/Chinese society and increased independence in the U.S. (ex. learning how to drive in this country); the food, cooking from scratch; and other customs). Comments on differences in family structure between two cultures; and the reluctance of some children to learn the old language, etc. Recorded at the home of Ms. Thu Huynh, Harrisonburg, Va., March 17, 1993

Original audiocassette, March 17, 1993 Media Cabinet 1 Audiocassette SA008-CS-008
Transcript, March 17, 1993 Box 1 Folder 8
Marta F. de Meza, interviewed by Theresa Staropoli, January 25, 1993

Records the viewpoints of Marta F. de Meza, Coordinator of Spanish Ministry, Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, Harrisonburg, Va. Explains purpose of the ministry: to provide religious and social support services for the Spanish speaking community which consists of a sizable Hispanic population, mostly from Mexico. Mentions assimilation and changes in lifestyle that occur in families as they try to adjust to American society. Explains economic reasons for leaving their country; separation of families, and changes in travel/settlement patterns over the years (crossing the border). Mentions discrimination; level of acceptance by local population and comparison of this acceptance to other immigrant groups such as the Russians. Interview setting: 154 N. Main Street, Harrisonburg, Va., Jan. 25, 1993.

Box 1 Folder 9
Laura Draim, interviewed by Theresa Staropoli, November 11, 1992

Records the viewpoints of Laura Draim, English as a Second Language Program Coordinator, Dayton Learning Center, Dayton, Va. Talks about the purpose of the Center: to provide general adult education, literacy, family-learning/training and development programs, and child care to those in need of such services. Mentions the purpose and history of the ESL program (first begun in 1972 by the Massanutten Technical Center); who is eligible to attend; and funding and statistical information on numbers of teachers and students and their nationality, many of whom are Mexican. Talks about the make-up of classes; changes and growth of program and the need for additional support to expand services. Briefly mentions assimilation and changes in lifestyle that occur in families as they try to adjust to American society. Comments on nationalities of immigrants and how this has changed over the years, dependent upon world events. Interview setting: Dayton Learning Center, Dayton, Va. (?), Nov. 11, 1992.

Box 1 Folder 10
Sam Ritchie, interviewed by Theresa Staropoli, November 11, 1992

Records the viewpoints of Sam Ritchie, Superintendent of the Rockingham County (Va.) English as a Second Language program. Briefly reviews the history of the program, beginning in 1990 (?); also earlier efforts. Mentions problems associated with the program: student enrollment numbers, etc. Talks about differences in approach to ESL, depending upon level of school; the use of tutoring; and the state-mandated Literary Passport test. Briefly mentions assimilation and difficulties/changes in lifestyle that occur especially with older students; problems faced by migrant children. Interview setting: place (?); Nov. 11, 1992.

Box 1 Folder 11
Sheryl Wise, interviewed by Theresa Staropoli, November 18, 1992

Records the viewpoints of Sheryl K. Wyse, a teacher for the Harrisonburg City public schools ESL program. Reviews the history of the program, beginning in 1984; also earlier efforts. Gives statistical figures on the number and nationality of ESL students (total figure as of Oct. 1992: 101 students), the rapid growth of the program (in 1988-89 there were only 16); also numbers of teachers, with plans for more hiring. Mentions organization of classes; how students are divided (by fluency levels); credits needed for graduation; and the Va. English Language Literary Passport Test. Talks about new approaches to ESL teaching (ex. use of native language/English language textbooks, other innovations). Briefly mentions assimilation and difficulties/changes that occur especially with older students, and the influence that ESL teachers have on students trying to adjust to a new culture. Interview setting: Harrisonburg City School Board Building, Harrisonburg, Va., Nov. 18, 1992.

Box 1 Folder 12