Stories of Knox County is an oral history project aimed at capturing what it means to be a part of this community. We are especially interested to explore how the county’s history has shaped the present and the ways its inhabitants envision the future. We hope to achieve this by gathering stories about people’s daily lives, their values, hopes, and aspirations. The project aims to interview a cross section of residents that are both diverse and representative of the community. Hence, it will strive to include, among its interviewees, variety in age, belief systems, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, level of activity in the community, and geographic localization within the county (i.e., urban/rural). The stories we gather will be shared with the community as a public presentation and a digital exhibit.
Stories of Knox County was a unique learning opportunity which provided me with a wide breadth of skills that are not usually taught in a traditional class. SOKC allowed the students to participate in the decisions of what they studied, as we were given the freedom to seek out interviewees. This provided us with curatorial experience, as well as methodology for oral history. The class also taught me to relate to and identify with people from very different backgrounds, and find connections in writing, as we compared each interview for overarching themes. SOKC gave me the tools to be engaged with the Knox County community, as well as unique insight into how small, rural communities function. Professor Roman-Odio helped keep us on track, but was careful to allow the students to demonstrate leadership and work with each other to accomplish our goals and work past any disagreements we had. Coming away from SOKC, I feel I have gained a commitment to public action, as well as a drive to stress this significance to others. The course was a holistic, thorough experience, and I came away with it feeling like I accomplished more than a grade; I had a project to show for it.
-Gabriel Jiménez-Ekman , ‘19
My experiences with Community Engaged Learning have been some of my most interesting and fulfilling learning experiences at Kenyon. Through our oral history project, I feel like a learned so much about Knox County and developed a much stronger connection to both the Kenyon Community and the greater Knox County community, and I think I am able to be a far more valuable participant in both of these. CEL has encouraged me to think about the ways I can be a more active citizen and community member, and has really helped me to understand the importance of local politics and infrastructure, as well as place-specific solutions to problems where I had previously mostly thought on a national or global scale. I think the oral history project also has made me more comfortable as a person encountering new people and situations, and has empowered me to envision new projects and ways that I can continue to contribute to the communities I am a part of. Not only do I find the lessons I learned from CEL to be memorable, but I also found them to be more engaging and enjoyable than the average class. I always returned to campus from an interview with a news sense of clarity, purpose, and genuine excitement about what I was doing. I think CEL more closely mirrors the way humans naturally learn--by interacting with the world around them--and it follows that Community Engaged Learning, while still very challenging and stimulating, feels very organic and intuitive.
-Maria Brescia-Weiler ‘19
Stories of Knox County not only gave me the opportunity to listen to fascinating stories, meet extraordinary people and understand a little bit better the social fabric of our community, but served as an example of how community-engaged learning is an indispensable part of a liberal arts education. Throughout the semester, the theoretical concepts of “place” discussed in the classroom came to fruition in interviews. Stories of Knox County worked to break down barriers of traditional educational practices. It exemplified how collaboration between an educational institution and its community, having students learn by combining theory with real world experience is a worthwhile and useful practice. In my college career so far, Stories of Knox County has been by far the most valuable learning experience at Kenyon.