Impressions sur ma première entrevue - par Gabriela Mizrahi

Depuis quelques semaines déjà, des élèves de cinquième secondaire de l’École internationale de Montréal participent à un projet qui allie pédagogie, entrevues d’histoire de vie et conception d’une exposition.

Pour en savoir plus sur ce projet: http://histoiresdevie-chili.blogspot.com/

Voici le blogue de Gabriela Mizrahi qui a réalisé sa première entrevue récemment.

"My impressions of the interview with Claudia

When we were first introduced to the project, I chose to be a part of the interview team as my first choice and the financing team as my second choice. I chose the interview team because I had seen some interviews of survivors of crimes against humanity and I thought that it would be a very meaningful and memorable experience to be able to interview someone who had lived through Pinochet’s dictatorship in Chile. I also wanted to participate in raising money for the final exposition because I have experience in fundraising.

During the first meeting of the interview team, we spoke about what our group would be doing. I thought all we had to do was find the people to interview and then do the interview. That meeting changed my idea of the work that had to be done. That same day we watched a documentary video about the coup on September 11th 1973. It really made me understand how quickly everything changed for the people of Chile. The movie also showed the injustice and terror that reined over the country.

We also had a training session from CURA at Concordia University. We talked about what to do and what not to do during a life story interview. To do so, we watched several short video clips of interviews on television. For example, we watched a segment from an interview with Sarah Palin. We found that during a life story interview you can’t interrupt the witness or accuse them of something. We learned that a life story interview is more like a conversation. The two parties are equals. I wasn’t able to stay for the whole session, but I felt that I understood more about our part in the project and what a life story interview really is. At that point, I really wanted to do one of the interviews. A few days later, I was informed by a friend that I had been drawn by lottery as the person to do the first interview. I was ecstatic. I was still a little bit intimidated and afraid, because I still didn’t know quite what to expect. However, after the pre-interview I lost a lot of the confidence I had before. We weren’t prepared for it. We hadn’t determined exactly what we had to do or who was going to do what part. However, we were still able to do everything we had to. On a more positive note, it was really interesting to meet with someone who had actually been in Chile during the dictatorship. We were able to get an idea of her experience.

After the pre-interview, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do the interview anymore. I even thought about trying to get Irina to do the interview with me because I thought that she had a better rapport with Claudia. I didn’t think I could do it alone. However, after talking to Vanaka and Manuel, they convinced me that as long as I prepared well before the interview it would all go well. During spring break, we had another less formal training session for the interview team, in which we watched clips of the interviews of survivors from Cambodia done by students from St-Georges last year. We also watched interviews of survivors from Chile. We then had a discussion where we attempted to compare the two situations. We determined that there are two different kinds of pain, physical and emotional. And that people can live the situation directly or indirectly. Watching the other interviews really helped me to understand what I could expect and what I had to do to prepare. The next step before the interview was to learn more about the history, the facts. Later that some week, I met with Manuel, Vanaka and Juan Pablo, who is part of the history team. Juan Pablo gave me information sheets with all the most important dates and events. I learned the time line of events before, during and after the dictatorship. Both the history lesson and the pre-interview were very helpful in writing the questions to ask for the interview. Even so, I was very unsure about how to begin the conversation. But after beginning the list of questions and with much guidance and help from Vanaka and Manuel I was able to figure it out. After that step, I felt much more prepared for the interview.

The day of the interview, I was surprised to feel a little more confident than I had before. I think that was mostly due to the fact that I had a clear idea of how the interview was going to go. The day prior, I retyped the questions in a very clear and big font, so that I could easily refer to it when needed. I printed several copies so that everyone working on the interview had an opportunity to add something.

The first hour of the interview went by a little slower than the rest. I was very nervous and half way through the first hour I felt light headed. I then realized that I wasn’t light headed because I was nervous, but because my blood sugar was low. I was a little embarrassed, but once we started into the second hour it was all fine again. I sometimes found it difficult to concentrate on knowing what to ask next, because I was so fascinated with what Claudia was saying. All in all, I think the interview went well. I believe we got everything we wanted to get from the first interview. During the interview, did forget some questions, but after the break we went back and addressed those questions. The other thing that was difficult was stopping the interview so we could change the tape for the camera. I didn’t want to cut Claudia off in the middle of saying something. In the end everything went well and we talked for almost three hours. Even after the interview was over, the cameras were off and the rest of the team was having snacks we continued to talk about her life here in Canada and her son’s life in school.

I think the experience was absolutely worth the work. I think that I would do it again if I was given the opportunity. Now that it’s over, I think that I did my job pretty well. I think if I had had more time, I wouldn’t have been as nervous, but I believe that it was really a team effort and everyone did their job to finish this step of the project.

Now my job is to help the next person to do an interview and give them helpful tips to make the process easier. I think I learned a lot from this experience and I won’t forget it for years to come. It is definitely one of the best project we have done at school."