As this will be my last blog post I decided to share all that I have learned from my internship experience and the museum. during the semester not only have I learned what it is like to work at a cultural museum, but have a crash course on what it is like to do oral history.
What I Have Learned from a Cultural Museum
Before this experience I knew almost nothing about the Swedish culture and what the Swedish people are like. However, while working at the museum I had the pleasure of interviewing immigrants and meeting volunteers and interns from Sweden. Not only are the people of Sweden practical (see week five), but they are also welcoming and more than willing to share their culture.
What I Have Learned about Oral History
Oral history can be a lot harder than it looks. I think the most challenging part of the entire process was transcribing the entire interview because it is very tedious work that needs an eye for detail. While writing these interviews ever pause, conjunction, and pronunciation matter because it crucial to be as accurate as possible. I also learned that once the interview is transcribed it doesn’t necessarily mean that your work is done. For several of my interviews, having a follow up was necessary to make sure that all Swedish terms and phrases were correct and that all the information was accurate. By the end of this semester I had much more respect for those who do this professionally because the whole process could be tedious at times.
Oral history can also be challenging because it requires the interviewer to be adaptable and flexible. In order to get the most information out of each person it was critical that I adapted to each personality and story. I remember during one interview I had trouble getting my subject to speak at length about certain topics of the US because she had little experience with this country.During the interview I decided that it would be a good idea to switch topics from the US to Sweden because she had lived her whole life in Sweden. Once I switched the topic it was clear that she became much more comfortable and started to talk more at length. On the other hand, I also had people who can’t stop talking no matter what. During these situations it was clear that in order to do the interview in a timely matter it was best to select which question were the most important rather than ask all of them. Despite all of these challenges it was rewarding to hear the stories of these people who were clearly proud of their Swedish heritage. I will definitely come back to the museum soon, hopefully as a volunteer or a visitor