Sayyara being interviewed by Chelcia
It’s been a while since our last post and I’m sure you are all on the edge of your seat in anticipation, wondering how the Children In Movement project has been going. Well, the wait is finally over as I give you an update on what we’ve been busy doing over the past few months.
So far I have been fortunate enough to sit in on three different interviews conducted by the young people we have been training in oral histories. First of all, I’d like to say that it is honestly a real pleasure to be able to just sit and listen to someone tell you their stories, their thoughts and their truth. As a poet myself, I am constantly surrounded by the spoken word and hear people voicing their opinions, struggles and stories on a regular basis. These interviews, however, are not a performance. There are no choreographed movements or pyrotechnics going off in the background, or expensive coffee. It is simply someone reminiscing on their life in the most honest way possible.
Robin being interviewed by Sunny
I have heard the stories of people who have migrated from Slovakia, Hong Kong and France, and others have interviewed people from Mexico, Jamaica, Poland and Pakistan. Each person’s experience has similarities, but I find that what distinguishes each interview the most is the emotion expressed. Some came to Birmingham in the pursuit of opportunities and career paths unavailable in their home town, whilst others came for education. Some had no real say in the matter.
It can be a fairly nerve wracking experience for both the young interviewers and the interviewees. There is a slight sense of nerves in the interview to begin with. But as the clock ticks and the conversation flows, you feel people start to open up more and more.
Lexia being interviewed by Emily
Everyone's an expert in their own life; they are the main character, director and editor of their biopic. You find that what they mention is what is significant and important to them, for example someone going into great detail about how they used to skateboard in their country of origin. This was key within the oral history training: you may have your own idea of what you want to hear and what you consider interesting, but the interviewee should be able to steer the direction of the interview in a way that is most relevant to them.
You are there to listen. I can’t really think of another point in life where you can just sit and tell your story, and have someone listen. (Maybe in a job interview? Or on a date? But I’m not an expert in either of them...).
Seb being interviewed by Hannah
There have been loads of great moments during these interviews. Moments when we’ve had to pause because we couldn’t hold in our laughter, or where emotions were running high and everyone needed a minute to themselves. I leave each interviewing with the feeling that myself, the young interviewers and the people being interviewed have gained something important from these conversations.
We are really excited to hear many more stories as the project continues.
Here’s me attempting traditional Chinese calligraphy after an interview with Rosa from Hong Kong at Town Hall & Symphony Hall.