Oral History as a Reflective Practice - Rancho La Puerta
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Oral History as a Reflective Practice

Week of June 1, 2024

In the age of social media, the way we document our lives can feel frantic and overwrought. What if we slowed this process down and gave ourselves time to reflect on how we share our stories? During these interactive workshops, we will practice oral history’s time-honored and reflective process. Active listening, empathy, and curiosity will guide us as we share our own stories while we acquire new tools for collecting and sharing the stories of our loved ones. This rejuvenating storytelling practice offers an embodied approach to celebrating the personal history all of us make every day.

Interactive and informative classes that use the practice of oral history to gather and celebrate family and community stories.

Celebrating the Power of the Story
An hour-long, interactive presentation about oral history and the power of personal narrative. The presentation will include a discussion of the many applications for oral history–family stories, community history, personal memoirs, and more. Audience members will experience various oral history excerpts as both storytellers and listeners. The presentation will also include a discussion of the art of interviewing, the ethics of storytelling, creating safe and brave spaces, and exploring the intersection of curiosity and empathy. The presentation also includes a brief storytelling activity and a Q&A.

Session 1: Taking History Personally
Session 2: The Artifact Interview
Session 3: Introduction to Oral History Editing


In 2010, Cliff Mayotte created the education program for Voice of Witness, an award-winning non-profit that advances social justice through oral history. The program currently serves over 400 educators and 15,000 students from around the world. Cliff has designed and facilitated storytelling workshops for numerous. universities and nonprofits, including The Bronx Documentary Center, Columbia University, the New Americans Museum, the University of Chicago, True/False Film Festival, The Nelson Mandela Foundation, and Trinity College Dublin. Cliff is the co-author of Say It Forward: A Guide to Social Justice Storytelling, published by Haymarket Books. His writing has also appeared in Edutopia and Salon.com. He is a recipient of the Beverly Kees Educator Award from The Society of Professional Journalists.