Memories from Middletown: A Veterans Oral History Project
Two years in the making, my first independent oral history project recorded the memories of local veterans in my hometown of Middletown, Connecticut, with a primary focus on the Vietnam War Era. The initiative is currently in the transcription stage with talk of the interviews being archived at the Middlesex Historical Society, the Greater Middletown Military Museum, and Library of Congress Veterans History Project.
Anticipated Completion Date: Summer 2013
Sangha Stories: Tales of Engaged Buddhism from the Upper West Side
The Venerable Zen Master Thích Nhất Hạnh, a poet and peace activist during the Việt Nam-American War, coined the term "Engaged Buddhism" in relation to the concept of using Buddhist practice to relieve societal suffering. Yet, due to his humanitarian efforts, Nhất Hạnh was exiled from Vietnam and came to reside in France where he founded the Plum Village Monastery in 1982. Since that time, he has attracted visitors from around the world, dually appealing to an Eastern and Western audience.
My master's thesis follows the life stories of practitioners in this tradition residing in New York City in hopes of better understanding how they came to embrace these teachings and the ways in which the practice plays out in everyday life. Additionally, this summer the Blinken European Institute of Columbia University is funding my visit to Plum Village where I will continue my recordings for their eventual unveiling in an upcoming exhibition.
Anticipated Completion Date: December 2013 / May 2014
International Voices: An Archive of Aurality
In February 2013, the International House of New York hosted a Black History Month performance entitled "Voices." In collaboration with the participants, I recorded their performed speeches and poems written by the leading black figures of recent history. It is hoped that these initial efforts will be developed into a larger archive to include oral history interviews and personal submissions by members of the I-House community for purposes of historic preservation and the cultivation of dialogue.
Anticipated Completion Date: Ongoing
Through Mindful Eyes: An Oral Portrait of Blue Cliff Monastery (2013)
Hosted on the Atavist multimedia storytelling platform, this project features reminiscences of Blue Cliff Monastery (Pine Bush, New York) by members of the Riverside Sangha of Manhattan. It couples edited audio excerpts derived from oral history interviews with recordings of singing and chanting by the monks, nuns, and visitors to the monastery. The project was first unveiled at the 2013 "Oral History and Our Times" conference, and will soon be available for public access.
"American Aid for German War Prisoners: Humanitarian Relief as Reconciliation between Heritage and Patriotism" (2012)
My undergraduate senior thesis examined the causes and conditions surrounding the rise of a German American war relief organization that raised funds for prisoners of war in Allied camps. Funded by the Potts Fund Grant for Historical Research and supported by archival holdings at the New York State Library, New York Public Library, and the National Archives II, I had the fascinating opportunity of reviewing governmental documents and personal correspondences by the organization's founder, Emil Auer. The paper was initially presented at the 2012 Steinmetz Symposium, and was awarded two college prizes for scholarly merit.
"Moses Viney Burial Site in Vale Cemetery
African-American Burial Grounds" (2012)
Vale Cemetery (Schenectady, New York) hosts the burial site of local legend Moses Viney, an escaped slave from Maryland who befriended Union College President Eliphalet Nott and won the heart of the campus community. In collaboration with archives across the city, I compiled a successful application to the National Park Service Network to Freedom program recognizing the cemetery's link to the Underground Railroad.