StoryCorps Oral History Project

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Radio Campesina Phoenix are StoryCorps are working together to preserve the history of the Hispanic community via audio recordings for later archival in the Library of Congress.
Radio Campesina Community Outreach Liaison Victor Gamiz talks about the project.

Jose Cardenas: Storycorps and Radio Campesina have come together are terror archive the oral history of the Hispanic community. Joining me to talk about the largest national oral history project is Victor Gamiz, community outreach coordinator at Radio Campesina. Victor, thanks for joining on us "Horizonte."

Victor Gamiz: Great to be on the show.

Jose Cardenas: Storycorps is a production of national public radio, the corporation for public broadcasting, and it's been going on for a number of years. People who listen to the local public radio station have heard it before. But this is a relatively recent effort, and tell us how this came about and the coordination between your company and Storycorps.

Victor Gamiz: That's right. Storycorps has been around since 2003, they've recorded more than 45,000 stories. I think for the first time they're very interested in capturing the stories of the Hispanic community. So they got in contact with us, who we are actually a nonprofit radio station run through he Cesar Chavez foundation, and I think they thought we were the perfect candidate, especially in Phoenix, pretty big demographic.

Jose Cardenas: They hadn't done this before anywhere.

Victor Gamiz: They had recorded Spanish stories in different parts of the country, they had never focused directly on the Hispanic community. And they did that for two weeks. Yeah, that's -- It was -- I think it's something that interested them, and it's something that's important here in the United States as well. I feel like our story is a story as well.

Jose Cardenas: They showed up in what this kind of mobile studio, but they brought here to Phoenix, and we've got pictures that we'll be running on the screen.

Victor Gamiz: That's right. It's an airstream mobile unit, like those old ones where people used to camp out in the back in the day. The story, it's a professionally produced studio inside the mobile unit that travels thousands of miles every year. And yeah, you go in there with another person who you have a great relationship with, somebody who knows you well, and it's a 40-minute conversation between you and that person and you talk about anything you want to talk B there's not really a story that we were looking for here.

Jose Cardenas: How hard was it to get people to turn out to participate?

Victor Gamiz: It was difficult. It was something that our listeners, our audience was not too familiar with. They had never heard of the Storycorps project. Obviously it's an English-based project with NPR. But we did a lot of outreach, so a lot of our work was partnering with different organizations, we partnered with about 10 different local organizations that are -- That are in the news quite often, like the Arizona dream act coalition, promise Arizona, Puente etc. many others as well. And we asked them to help us capture some of their participants, stories of their participants. And I think that was something that really helped us, and we used to our advantage. Because we do partner with local organizations, Radio Campesina, since we are active in the community. But -- It was difficult just to kind of throw out the storycorps project on air and let people know we're going to be recording stories, you should be interested.

Jose Cardenas: Despite those difficulties, you ended up with 64 participants?

Victor Gamiz: That's right. 64 pairs of participants, so about 90 plus participants as a whole. And the majority of our work was outreach going out, talking to different groups. I do a lot of street promotions for the radio station, and just listeners that were trying to get -- Win prizes or go to a concert, we were just talking to people, letting them know, this is a project here in Phoenix for the first time, they've never recorded Spanish stories, and we want your story. We want to hear what your story is, because every story, every person has a story.

Jose Cardenas: Given some of the groups you mentioned as participants, I imagine quite a few of the stories had to do something with the immigrant experience.

Victor Gamiz: That's right. A lot of the injustices I would say, the struggles of a lot of the people that live here in Phoenix. I felt like it was a good way for them to express their story. And they did. They did a lot of people talked about what they've experienced being here, what they experienced before coming here. How everything has worked around them being in Arizona and how they've been affected by the things going on here in Phoenix. That's in the news nationally usually, like every day.

Jose Cardenas: We're almost out of time. When will the stories be available and how will people be able to access them?

Victor Gamiz: The stories will be available on Radio Campesina. You can listen to the stories, we're just in the editing process. And we're going to choose about to stores that we're going to run for a whole month and they can listen to those stories online as well. Visiting Radio Campesina's website, and of course on Storycorps's website as well.

Jose Cardenas: Thank you so much for joining us. Victor Gamiz from Radio Campesina, sounds like a great project.

Victor Gamiz: Thank you.

Jose Cardenas: That is our show for tonight. From all of us here at "Horizonte," I'm Jose Cardenas. Have a good night

Victor Gamiz:Community Outreach Coordinator, Radio Campesina;

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