|The Pomona Oral History Project is looking for volunteers to be interviewed.|
With digital recorders in hand, about 60 Cal Poly Pomona freshmen, are out collecting slices of history from people of the Pomona Valley.
The students, who are enrolled in Interdisciplinary General Education 120: “Consciousness and Community,” are collaborating with the Historical Society of Pomona Valley to collect oral histories.
“Whether someone is 21 or 91, they have a unique point of view that is important to our history,” says Sandra Mizumoto Posey, assistant professor and interim director of the Center for Community Service-Learning. “A lot of interviewees do not believe they are part of history, but their lives are definitely historical.”
The oral histories, which at minimum are an hour, will be transcribed then catalogued at the historical society's Ebell Museum of History at 585 E. Holt Ave.
“Pomona is made up of people who each have something to add to our local history,” says Mickey Gallivan, historical society board president. “It's amazing the things you find out about people when they give their oral histories.”
The IGE 120 students work in teams and are assigned to people who agreed ahead of time to be interviewed.
IGE 120 is the only general education service-learning course currently offered that is designed for first-time freshmen. IGE is an eight-course interdisciplinary undergraduate general education sequence that prepares students to lead globally conscious, socially responsible, productive, satisfying and ethical lives in a changing diverse world.
Before setting out to do their interviews, students spent class time preparing questions and learning about Pomona's history.
Most teams go with dozens of questions in case their interviewees need some coaxing.
“An hour is tough to fill,” says Mechanical Engineering major James Richards, whose team interviewed Marco Zamora, a local artist and clothing designer.
Liberal Studies major Jared McLeod and his team interviewed Pomona Unified School District Boardmember Candelario Mendoza.
“I found Mr. Mendoza's story about Pomona very interesting,” McLeod says. “Being a Latino child growing up in an Anglo society, and having to overcome discrimination, was very inspiring. He used the gift of education to make a difference in his life and in the city of Pomona.”
Mendoza's interest in history and long fruitful past in the Pomona Valley made it easy to keep him talking for an hour, McLeod says.
“Everyone has a story to tell,” McLeod says. “Some of these people before the interviews didn't view their lives as being significant to history, but actually those are some of the best testimonies. Learning about where they got their first kiss in Pomona, to their view on how the city has changed over the years is great history in itself.”
For more information about the project visit: https://www.pomonafolk.org/