I have been back from my trip two weeks now alongside reconnecting with friends and family and deciding what to do next, I have been trying to organise materials from my trip.
One of my original goals was to try and collect oral history stories whilst out on my trip. So I was delighted to get a message from two NYC alumni, Erica Fugger and Cameron Vanderscoff, both graduates of the Oral History Masters at Columbia University, who were both also keen to capture video stories from alumni.
I have had a story telling thread running in my life for about the last 15 years, doing some weekend courses and attending story telling festivals (they are wonderful uplifting things if you have never been you should) and joining gatherings of the Narrative Leadership group here in the UK. I was never quite sure how this thread might weave its way further into my work, but the trip seemed an obvious fit.
So Erica helped create some basic templates and questions to help alumni reflect on camera and I set off full of enthusiasm. As is often the case the practicalities proved more challenging than expected. With my partner, Chris around for the first few events, we did well as he could be dispatched with the iPad and an alumni to capture stories from the willing. However on my own, bar a couple along the way, I failed. Reflecting back trying to meet new people en mass and also overcoming my own reluctance to be on video, ‘so why would anyone else agree to do it?’, prevented me from achieving what I had hoped.
Last night I was organising the videos I do have to share them with Erica and Cameron and was watching them back.
Regret at not having tried harder washed over me as I watched Karoline Klose describe how salsa dancing was one of the many gifts I-House gave her and how it has allowed her to meet new people no matter where she is in the world or Donna Lurie describing her time at I-House Berkeley and her reaction when her husband Joe Lurie got the call to say he was going to be the new Director of the House. Stories told in people’s own words are so powerful and engaging.
After my moment of regret, I reminded myself that my trip was a beginning not an end so there is still the possibility to realise this ambition. Erica and Cameron continue to be keen to be part of capturing the magic, particularly from those whose lives have been long and fascinating and being realists will not always be around to tell their stories.
On my trip people asked me a lot if I would be writing a book about it. Perhaps it is not a book that is the legacy of the tour but a combination of materials and media that try to convey the importance and success of the I-House idea in stories which can be used to expand the number of Houses around the world.
In the recent memorial for David Rockefeller, Daisy Soros, NYC alumna, said that her main surprise was that I-House was not more well known. This was my reflection too so I want to see if I can change that.
How you can help – capture your significant I-House story
I would love you to record on your iPad, Android, iPhone or other device a short c2 minute piece about your time at I-House.
How to Record Your Story: To contribute to this collection, please follow the directions below to record a video message:
- Complete the release form that you can find at this link. You can download it (click on the three dots in the top right hand corner & select ‘Download’) and print it and take a photo of or scan the completed form and send it back with the video https://www.dropbox.com/s/y5sh71no6tf8mbx/IHOHP%20Storytelling%20Release%20Form.docx?dl=0
- Using your camera on your phone or iPad swipe over to the Video tab and hit the camera reverse symbol to the right of the screen to make sure it is set it to selfie mode.
- Make sure that the camera is oriented in landscape (width) mode rather than portrait (length) mode by turning the phone or iPad to the right.
- Set your phone or iPad on a steady table and sit in a chair or hold it at arm’s length, so you are centered on the screen.
- Sit/stand in good lighting so your face is fully in view, but not directly in front of a bright light or window.
- Speak directly into the camera and make sure that your surroundings are not too noisy.
Next, choose a question to answer and record the number on the sign in sheet (we have used I-House below but if you have been at Goodenough, or ISH London / DC or other of the International Worldwide Houses we do want to hear from you too):
- How did you learn about I-House?
- What brought you to I-House and what memorable activities were you involved in?
- Describe the first day you arrived at IH. What were some of the sights, sounds, smells, or conversations you first encountered?
- Share a story about an individual or moment at I-House that change you as a person or shaped your worldview.
- What cultural exchanges or celebrations were most memorable?
- Speak about a moment in history that you experienced while living at IH.
- How did your time at I-House impact your career or life trajectory?
- Who have you kept in touch with from your IH days?
- What advice do you have for current or future I-House residents?
- Anything else you’d like to share?
- Hit the red center button to record. Begin speaking after the numbers at the top of the screen start counting up.
- Offer an introduction and answer one of the questions listed above. Please keep stories to no more than 3-4 minutes in length.
Your introduction should include the following information:
- Your full name
- The I-House you lived in and the years you were there
- Today’s date and location
- The question number you are answering
- When you are done with your storytelling, say goodbye and hit the red record button again.
- Once you have recorded it – please upload the video & the release form to a dropbox or similar and share with me on firstname.lastname@example.org OR email me and we can work out the best way to get the video to me (Please don’t try and email it to me as it probably won’t get through)