Student Reflections: Chris Valis

What’s meaningful for me is how raw and emotional some of the interviews were. Ray Lancelotta had a great story talking about how the [Vietnamese] locals would pick through the American military’s waste for food and other discarded items. I also found the normal, everyday stories interesting. I enjoyed the story from Mike Bennett about how he would go into town to buy fresh baked bread but had to cut it open first to scrape out the flies that would get stuck in the rising dough before he ate any. I was personally impacted by the interviews in such a way that I have learned not to assume anything about anyone. The interviews are so different on so many levels. No two people have the same story to tell. I never really looked at the person before, just people as a whole. The interviews are extremely interesting and make me want to participate in more. The hardest part is finding a person who wants to be interviewed. I think it’s important to build up some trust with the narrator before the interview takes place. The individual person is where the interviewer is really going to strike gold; I highly doubt one could interview more than one person at a time and have the same results.

This oral history project changed my notions about the 1960’s. When I was younger I thought that every young person was involved in the anti-war movement. I now know that’s not true. When I was trying to find people to interview, most of them said they really didn’t do anything of importance. They all had pretty normal lives. Some went to war, some went to college, and some didn’t do much of anything. I’m not saying they don’t have great stories to tell, but it would be like me interviewing someone living in any decade.

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