A lot of times, the books about history offer a more thorough analysis of experts’ interpretation of an event that a personal account. Both versions must be taken into consideration in assessing the significance of the events. Two professors at the University of the Virgin Islands determined to reconcile each of the stories.
Thalassa Tonks, and Molly Perry, who teach English at St. Croix, and teach English on St. Croix campus and history and geography on St. Thomas of the Virgin Islands respectively, were recently given a grant of $, “Digital Humanities Advancement Grant” from the National Endowment for the Humanities for their efforts to produce and preserve personal stories from the everyday. Molly. Perry said, “If one only relies on the official and expert versions of the past, one is missing a great deal in the fabric of everyday life.” They also plan to teach students to document and seek oral histories.
The creation of a website for displaying accounts and making access to anybody any time, is an aspect of the project called “Community Conversations: A Digitized Cultural Preservation Project for the United States Virgin Islands.” The current grant for this purpose is actually the third grant that has been awarded for the same work. Prior Humanities and Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands grants have aided the purchasing of video recorders, microphones, lighting equipment, and other tools for students working on the project. Although the main motivation for this initiative is the preservation of heritage, the project has more significant ramifications.
Tonks and Perry pointed out that there are numerous other causes of a drop in study of the humanities. Tonks stated that there is a decrease in the study of humanities. The group further elaborated on the notion by expressing that gathering oral stories helps students engage more deeply with their subject matter. Perry explained, “A project such as it empowers students.” The concept that first-year University of the Virgin Islands students often come to the University of the Virgin Islands to receive additional education is shared. Students feel they are not speaking correctly because they’re using Virgin Islands dialiects. Perry and Tonks stated their intent to rectify this issue, saying: “We want that to be reversed.
The Professors expressed that students are extremely passionate about their topics of conversation they have reflected in their personal experiences. They have projected possible subjects of discussion to include Climate Change and Natural Disasters and could broaden the scope of the project to include science classes. Materials and training for students they have developed and implemented for Social Sciences, Caribbean Geography, Cultural Geography and Caribbean History are put to effective use. These women know that they’re not the first or only the first to initiate the Oral History Project in the Caribbean region. This helps them build connections with other organizations doing the same.
Researchers are well aware of the potential difficulties that can arise with oral histories projects. They’ve ensured that they educate students responsible for collecting and recording data. This is done to help avoid these challenges. Perry also noted that it is important to cross-reference data. Perry further states that there is a lot of study being conducted to better understand the link between history and memory. There are still issues regarding the language used in the creation of oral histories for the Virgin Islands. This is because of memory accuracy concerns.
We can find the fact that Oral History projects like the ones conducted by these professors provide a unique method of understanding Caribbean cultural and historical context. These projects are incredibly important to preserve and understanding our history, in that they permit us to discover more than just by studying documents but also hearing the stories and personal stories from people who were a part of and lived history first-hand. These initiatives will help us to continue exploring our past and gain insights into our culture’s tomorrow.