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SCAmericaSheila Rouse works for Legacy Pointe Senior Living Center.  Earlier this year she reached out to Scott Palmer, Waukee APEX Instructor for Developing Web-Based Technologies, with a project idea. She had become familiar with StoryCorp, an independently funded organization whose “mission is to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world.” StoryCorp encourages young people to interview elders with the purpose of building oral history within our country. This is called “The Great Listen” Project. Sheila’s idea was to recruit Waukee APEX student associates to be involved in interviews that would then be archived on the StoryCorp website.

When Waukee APEX associates Nick Pope and Sully Bolles heard the pitch for this project idea they were very interested in participating. They didn’t know much about StoryCorp or it’s mission, so they needed to research and figure out the interviewing process. StoryCorp has multiple recording locations throughout the country, but participants can also conduct their own interviews to be uploaded and archived through the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress and on the StoryCorp website.

Interested residents of Legacy Pointe only needed to sign up to have their stories shared and archived, then the rest of the process was up to Nick, Sully, and Sheila. There are multiple resources on the StoryCorp website regarding best practices for conducting an interview as well as webinars that share useful information. “Over the last 16 years, StoryCorps has perfected a method for helping people feel more connected and for reminding us of the inherent worth of every person and every story. People come together to have otherwise impossible conversations, using our tools and questions. The microphone gives them license to talk about things they otherwise might not discuss.”

While StoryCorp does share interview questions, Nick and Sully found that they really needed to utilize their listening skills in order to come up with questions specific to the interview. Sully shared that while conducting the interviews, “It was very important to listen, be engaging, be prepared, show focus and pay attention and show interest.”

While they were able to get two interviews done before school closures, they are hoping to pick this project back up at a later date. Sheila Rouse shared that having APEX student involvement in this project serves as a “bridge to the generations in the telling of and listening to stories.” Nick and Sully felt that it was very interesting for them to hear about their interviewees’ lives, and how things changed as they moved through different stages of life. Nick expressed that he liked how he could hear how their values changed through the years, as he felt like this was a very interesting thing to be able to observe. They both felt that it was necessary to go into an interview with an open mind and to accept the challenge of the project.

Martha Ayres and Jane Tiggeman, interviewees, shared that Nick and Sully were very respectful and mature, and they asked questions that really made them think. The core values of StoryCorps’ mission is to Listen, Honor, and Share; all values that everyone should keep in mind on a daily basis. StoryCorp promotes the “power of storytelling to teach, celebrate, heal, and amplify your community.” Sheila Rouse and our Waukee APEX program look forward to continuing to support this powerful mission.

Want to hear more? Follow the links to Waukee APEX interviews with Martha Ayres and Jane Tiggemann: