SPOHP staff members Anupa Kotipoyina and Krystal Dixon traveled to Trinidad the last week of July to meet with local historians and educators to map out a trajectory for a fieldwork-based Oral History study abroad program. A project conceived of and spear-headed by Anupa Kotipoyina, she reflected on this experience in the following statement:
“Many college students hope to study abroad for a unique educational experience. I personally did not realize how even travelling within one’s own country could be an exciting and rich learning opportunity until I participated in SPOHP’s Mississippi Freedom Project fieldwork trip last year. We were constantly in action: collaborating with local organizations, listening to and giving presentations, and collecting life histories from people from all walks of life. SPOHP is in the process of combining the hands-on learning model of our fieldwork trips with the global perspective that study abroad offers. With the help of a grant from UF’s international center, Krystal and I spent last week in Trinidad and Tobago, one of the most diverse and dynamic countries in the world, in order to create the relationships and do the networking that is necessary to make a fieldwork-based, collaborative oral history trip possible and successful.
I had been to Trinidad once before on vacation, but it was an entirely different experience to meet professors, local historians, and directors of nonprofits to discuss the potential for collaboration. From the National Trust to the National Council of Indian Culture to the Emancipation Day Support Committee, the diverse ways that Trinidadians are working to preserve their history and culture are inspirational.
Although we are still very much in the process of learning about Trinidad and figuring out the details of our program, everyone we met expressed enthusiasm to work with us and were incredibly flexible in the ways they can help us create our vision of an international digital humanities and oral history research trip. Some even went out of their way to make sure our site visit was as smooth and productive as possible–I’ll never forget how one professor offered Krystal and I a ride to a nearby food court and even asked if we needed money in the local currency. If we learned so much just in one week of meetings, I cannot imagine how much students will learn in three to four weeks of lectures, excursions, and fieldwork.”
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