Everyone has a story to tell. It may be the story of an enduring love, a friendship that spans decades, or a teacher who changed a life. The one thing these stories have in common is that they are the uniquely personal, true stories of real people. StoryCorps is an organization dedicated to recording and archiving these stories.
“The idea,” said Matt Herman, a StoryCorps recorder who recently worked with students of the Gateway to College program at Montgomery College as part of StoryCorps’ National Teachers Initiative, “is that we think that the stories of real people are important stories - and stories that often aren’t talked about enough in the media.”
Melinda Elder and Megan Stoutamire, students in the Gateway program who have been friends since sixth grade, were excited to record their story. “We interviewed each other,” said Elder. “We had a little recap of our friendship since middle school, why we decided to enter Gateway, and why we’ve stayed at it so long – and our successes.”
The StoryCorps National Teachers Initiative is intended to celebrate the impact exceptional educators have on our lives. “Gateway is an alternative program to help high school students complete their high school graduation requirements by taking class at Montgomery College,” said Yvonne Hu-Cotto, Resource Specialist to the program. “When I contacted (StoryCorps) they were initially looking for partners that were K-12 institutions but when I read the description I thought the population here is spot on.” Hu-Cotto contacted StoryCorps about the possibility of including community colleges in their initiative and they agreed.
With over 60,000 participants, StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects ever. Their mission is to capture as many voices as possible from a wide-ranging group of people. To facilitate this, they have several initiatives that focus on specific populations ranging from those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001, to those who are part of the African American community. However, those who are not part of an initiative are still invited to record their stories.
“Every recording is archived at the Library of Congress American Folklife Center,” said Herman. “We’ve made more than 37,000 recordings in about eight years.”
The StoryCorps site has interview questions and other information about recording your story. While at the site, you can listen to the stories of others. NPR’s Morning Edition also includes recordings as part of their show.
“By giving people the opportunity to tell their own story,” said Herman, “we can do something that’s really important.”