School in the Square Intergenerational Participatory Research Collective

OHMAR 22: The Power of Oral History

We are the School in the Square (S2) Intergenerational Participatory Research Collective. Beginning in June 2019, we are a multi-racial, multi-generational participatory research collective of twelve 10th and 11th graders documenting how we, and other young people are navigating the transition to high school, in times of protest and pandemic. Our project stretches across 32 schools, in a deeply segregated city (NYC). The research project was grounded in the belief “No research about us, without us!” Having conducted nearly 150 testimonies with ourselves and our peers, we are bearing witness and documenting history, from the perspective of youth of color (aged 14 – 16), from immigrant, mostly Dominican families, living in Washington Heights, Harlem and the Bronx. As we prepare for life after high school, this presentation is a reflection on the power of oral history as a medium for altering how we perceive our academic and intellectual capacities. Further we discuss the transformative impact of the conversation illuminating new ideas for both interviewee and interviewer. Through these conversations, we shared intimate details of ourselves and our peers,, our past and our dreams for a better future. Thus, the act of oral history in this context nurtured a generational consciousness with young people coming of age in times of pandemics, uprisings, and remote learning in a wildly unequal and segregated city, NYC. This presentation unveils the challenges and opportunities that this project presented in historic times.