Life Stories in Education News

"Regard sur le Chili" on Radio Canada International

Listen to this Paloma Martinez interview with Manuel Abellan, one of our team members who co-led the "Regard sur le Chili" project with the École internationale de Montréal (the interview is in Spanish):

"Le but du projet était de concevoir et mettre sur pied une exposition articulée autour d’une ou plusieurs entrevues d’histoire orale de type « Histoires de vie (HDV) » rattachées à l’histoire du régime dictatorial d’Augusto Pinochet au Chili entre 1973 et 1990. Les 40 étudiants de l’École internationale de Montréal était responsables de toutes les étapes de la production de l’exposition. Celle-ci a permis de créer un parallèle entre le récit historique de la dictature de Pinochet et une ou plusieurs HDV d’individus différents."

To learn more about this project, see: Regard sur Chili

Vanaka Chhem-Kieth and Manuel Abellan win a Forces Avenir Award

(Photo: Annie Girard, teacher at Ecole internationale de Montréal, and Manuel Abellan, member of the Cambodian Working Group)

Last week, on November 10th, Vanaka Chhem-Kieth and Manuel Abellan won a Forces Avenir Award for their "Regard sur le Chili" project.

"To attain their goal, the five students from four Montréal universities (Concordia, McGill, Université de Montréal and UQAM) invited Secondary 5 students from the twentieth century history class at École internationale de Montréal to help them produce a short film and an art exhibition. By filming interviews with Chileans now living in Québec, they wanted to draw a parallel between the highly emotional and subjective popular history recounted by those who lived under the dictatorship and the history portrayed in the country’s textbooks, which is more emotionally detached and fraught with a concern for remaining objective."

Congratulations to all!


HIST 670A/870A/2 - Seminar A
Selected Topics in History (3 credits)

INSTRUCTORS: S. High & T. Little (Theatre)
T 10:00 - 13:00

Stories matter. Students enrolled in these two-semester seminar-studio courses will explore the creative intersection between oral history, new media and performing arts. The twinned courses are divided into two phases corresponding with the Fall and Winter terms. Phase I will concentrate on the theory and practice of oral history. Students will examine practical and ethical dilemmas related to the field and design an Oral History project. Projects will involve completing ethics review and conducting two interviews: one to be transcribed, and the other to be transformed into a searchable database. Students will have access to the video and audio recording equipment and workstations in the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling (LB-1042) as well as basic tech support. Student may consider working on an existing project within the Montreal Life Stories project (

Students are expected to enrol in both the Fall and Winter phases of these courses.

NOTE: This course is cross-listed with the undergraduate level courses HIST 481D and TDEV 498M.

HIST 670B/870B/4 Seminar AA
Selected Topics in History (3 credits)

INSTRUCTOR: S. High & T. Little (Theatre)
M 18:30 - 22:30

Phase Two of this twinned course will build on the work done in Phase One (see above). Using the Oral History projects envisioned in the Fall term as a point of departure, students will engage in "hands-on" explorations of ethical and practical considerations relating to the use of performing arts and new media to create performance pieces that draw-on, incorporate, or otherwise engage with oral histories. Working in a studio ensemble "workshop" environment, students will have the opportunity to experiment with the relative power, immediacy, politics and social efficacy of various forms of live performance and new media: Storytelling; Verbatim, Solo, and Collectively-created Documentary Theatre; non-verbal forms such as Image and Physical theatre; and participatory genres including Forum Theatre, Legislative Theatre, Playback Theatre, and the Collaborative Community Play. Participants in the course may elect to participate in a variety of roles within the context of collaborative creation: as research/dramaturge investigating sociological and anthropological contexts for performance; as videographer/new media artist; and/or as scriptwriter, director, actor, or designer. The course will pay particular attention to the social and political nature of relationships between audiences, communities, and performance events that involve "difficult stories" — stories of violence, trauma, or human rights

Students are expected to en roll in both the Fall and Winter phases of these courses.

NOTE: This course is cross-listed with the undergraduate level courses HIST 481E and TDEV 498N.

Regard sur le Chili: A New Blog on an Inspiring Project!

Since a few weeks now, students in their last year of high school at École internationale de Montréal are participating in a project that joins pedagogy, life story interviews and the conception of an exhibit.

Under Vanaka Chhem-Kieth and Manuel Abellan’s supervision, both members of the Cambodian Working Group, as well as under Annie Girard, their teacher, the students are responsible for all phases of the production of an exhibit which will be structured around interviews done with people who experienced Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorial regime in Chile. The interviews are already underway!

Visit the blog to learn more about this project:

Teaching award for St. George High School's “Life in the Open Prison" project

Megan Webster and her students at St. George’s High School have been awarded the 2009 Martha Ross Teaching Award by the Oral History Association (USA) for their project “Life in the Open Prison” produced in collaboration with the larger Life Stories project. The students produced a film based on the life story interviews of two survivors of the Cambodian genocide. Their project, according to the prize committee, "is exemplary in integrating life stories in a secondary classroom setting.”

This is a huge achievement and reflects well the tremendous energy and commitment of Megan and all of her students. Congratulations!!!