Over the weekend, I had the good fortune to participate in the StoryCorps project as an interviewee. For those whose parents didn’t make them listen to NPR as children, StoryCorps in an oral history project in which two people who know each other take 40 minutes to have a conversation–anything beyond that is up to them, though there are initiatives to capture specific stories (folk life, or experiences of major historical events). The most interesting stories are edited into NPR segments, and all of them are archived at the Library of Congress.
Walking in, my friend and I were greeted by an NPR employee who was certainly appeared to be cut from the same cloth as us. She went to my high school, has an MPH, and spent time in a different African country for study abroad. It was one of those small world moments that Atlanta is very good at providing.
Once the project had been explained, we were led to the recording studio (think black foam walls and very large microphones) and let to talk. The conversation–which we had originally planned to be about my trip to SXSW back when I worked for HackCollege. Because, let’s face it–sharing a hotel room with internet strangers for a nerdy weekend in Texas is Not a Typical Experience. (As my friend helpfully reminded me during the interview, she was somewhat concerned I was going to be murdered while I was there.)
But, as conversations do, it got away from us. Though we did touch on the SXSW trip, we also talked about Senegal, my childhood pretending to be a snow leopard (I went to magnet school), and –because of the friend who was interviewing me–we spent the last 10 minutes of the interview talking about our shared homestate.
This included, of course, an explanation of our deep and abiding love for QuikTrip, one of the two competing national gas station/food mart chains that Oklahoma has launched. We are, as a state, apparently good at two things: land grabs and selling people 69 cent fountain drinks. So, much to my friend’s chagrin, we’re now in the national library somewhere talking about corn nuts.
The StoryCorps was an interesting experience, and–though I think I’m out of stories for the moment–I’m glad I did it. For those of you in Atlanta, it’s pretty easy to set up a slot to do the interview: go to the Reservations page of the StoryCorps Atlanta project, and pick a time to come talk. Folk History is definitely one of those things worth preserving (particularly in regards to the South), and you basically get license to talk about yourself for 40 minutes. It’s a win-win.