The Christian Reformed Church in North America was established by Reformed immigrants from the Netherlands. We are a denomination with a unique story, which has grown to include the backgrounds and immigration stories of many others of different nationalities and ethnicities.
Through a series of “Immigration is Our Story” interviews collected in 2019, Reformed and Christian Reformed church members and friends from across North America told their families’ immigration stories to help us remember our largely immigrant identity and encourage us to pursue justice and welcome for our immigrant neighbors among us today.
The OSJ wants to use this unique, homebound time to add your family’s story to this collection! Do you have questions? Reach out to us at email@example.com!
How to Participate
Pick the interviewee and interviewer
Determine who in your family would know the story best - they will be the “interviewee.” If you can’t physically be with the interviewee for this project (for example, a grandparent living in a nursing facility that you cannot visit because of the coronavirus), don’t worry - you can record the conversation over the phone.
Choose an “interviewer.” Similar to the format of StoryCorps interviews (see an example here), these interviews should be conducted by a loved one of the interviewee - for example, a daughter interviewing her mother, or a grandson interviewing his grandmother.
Prepare the content of the interview
Tell the interviewee ahead of time what the questions are so that the interview can run smoothly, with minimal pauses
Questions for the interviewer to ask the interviewee (for continuity of the audio series, please be sure to ask these three questions - but feel free to rephrase them and/or ask additional questions as you see fit):
How has immigration been a part of your/our family’s story?
What challenges did your/our family face as immigrants? What opportunities were you/they given as immigrants?
Did the immigration laws and process at the time make it easy or difficult for you/our family to come here?
Prepare to record the interview
Easy Voice Recorder is a simple, straight-forward app for audio recordings. Please download this app onto your mobile device to use for your interview.
Arrange a time and place when both interviewer and interviewee will be relaxed, uninterrupted, and with minimal to no background noises. Small to medium sized rooms with carpeting, furniture, and soft surfaces that absorb noise work best. Avoid large rooms with hard surfaces, lots of windows, and/or running appliances.
Interviewer should ensure their mobile device is fully charged.
If the interview will be over the phone:
Set all sound notifications on your mobile device to silent so that there are no disruptions to the recording.
Call the interviewee and set the call to speakerphone for the recording.
Do a test recording first to ensure both voices on both ends of the phone are being picked up clearly.
If the interview will be in person:
Set your device to airplane mode to eliminate any interruptions to the recording.
For best sound quality, make sure your device’s microphone is always pointed towards the person speaking; the interview pair should sit close together.
Do a test recording first to ensure the microphone works and both voices are being picked up clearly.
Conduct the interview:
Start the recording with an introduction.
Interviewer: “My name is ____ and today is (day, month, date, year). I am speaking with my ____, (name), and we are recording this interview in (city, state).”
Interviewee: “My name is _____ and I am here to share my/my family’s immigration story.”
For the interviewer: ask the prepared questions listed above - as well as any additional questions - and listen closely; don’t hesitate to ask any follow up questions for more information or details - just like you would in having a conversation!
Try to keep the interview brief - if your recording is chosen to be a part of the series, it will likely be edited down to no longer than 5 minutes.
At the end of the interview, the interviewer should take a moment to tell the interviewee what they mean to him/her and what it meant that they shared their story; thank them.
Share the recording and photos with us:
Please title the recording something that is easily identifiable for our team (for example, “Immigration Interview: Melissa Stek and her father David Stek”)
Depending on the number of entries, we may not be able to edit and publish every recording submitted to us to be a part of the Immigration Is Our Story series. If your interview is chosen by our team, these audio recordings will be shared on the Office of Social Justice website, Facebook, and YouTube channel.