COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Fall 2018 Oral History class at the University of South Carolina is being recognized for their work with local veterans.
Director of the USC Oral History Department, Andrea L'Hommedieu, came up with the project as a way to teach her students the essence of oral story telling. She found 30 veterans across the state who were willing to share their stories and paired them with the 20 Honors students in her class.
"One of the main goals of this project was to begin telling veteran's stories. Veterans whose stories are often not heard," said L'Hommedieu.
The veterans interviewed ranged from 34 to 95 in age and came from every branch in the military.
After weeks of learning the art of oral history through interviewing techniques, the students spent time with their assigned veteran to learn everything about their lives, not just their time in the military.
L'Hommedieu says it was important for the students to "get stories that were in the words of the veterans."
All of the interviews were then created into podcasts, power points, posters, and other presentation forms. The class held a showcasing event to present their work to the veterans who inspired them. All of their work was then compiled into the SC Veterans Project Website, where each veteran has their own page dedicated to their story.
Catharine Aretakis is a junior history major at USC and was in L'Hommedieu's oral history class. She interviewed Navy Vietnam War veteran, Rolf Buncher. She said it was surreal listening to him talk about an accident on his ship, USS Frank E. Evans, in 1969 that resulted in the death of 74 men.
"It's so different to be able to actually speak to somebody who was there about what they went through and what that experience was like for them," Aretakis said.
Buncher was able to listen to the full interview for the first time at their showcase. She said he was ecstatic to be "a part of the patchwork of a larger story."
In October, L'Hommedieu's class won the 2019 Oral History Association Elizabeth B. Mason Award for their SC Veterans Project.
This semester, the Oral History class is working on a similar project, but this time they are focusing on local feminist voices in the women's movement. They are showcasing this project on Thursday, December 5 from 10 to 11 a.m. in the USC Hollings Library Program Room.