We are almost there! On July 28, Independence Day in Peru, we will deliver the first copies of the La Historia de Hualcayán: Contada Por Sus Pobladores (The History of Hualcayán: In the Words of Its Residents) to the people of Hualcayán. I am particularly excited because from inception to final production, this book stands as the proverbial poster child for co-creative projects. Although I blogged about this project before and the sponsoring organization PIARA, here is the bullet point summary:
- Last summer the Peruvian co-director of PIARA, Elizabeth Cruzado Carranza, and I met with several teachers from the village school located in the rural Andes of Peru. An “expressed need” of the teachers was a resource that documented the history of the local community.
- We proposed and the teachers agreed that compiling an oral history project of the community leaders and elders was an important first step. We provided the teachers with video flip cameras and a laptop. Elizabeth gave the secondary school students a crash course in oral history methods and helped them create a questionnaire.
- Over the fall, the students carried out the oral history interviews. This past January, Elizabeth and I returned to Hualcayán and collected the interviews. Although we were not certain of what to expect, the students did an EXCELLENT job. In total they collected about 20 ten-minute interviews with their parents and community leaders.
- Back in Memphis where Elizabeth is living for two years as a graduate student at the University of Memphis and the Museum Studies Graduate Certificate Program, she transcribed the oral histories and created the text for La Historia de Hualcayán: Contada Por Sus Pobladores. We are now selecting photos and laying out the book that will go to the printer in the next two weeks.
- On July 26th, we will deliver a first press run to families in the village to get their feedback to assure a balanced representation of points-of-view. Armed with that additional community input, we will print a revised and expanded edition and produce a Quechua/Spanish language DVD. The community can then decide if they wish to use sales from the books as a source of income from trekkers and other visitors who pass through their community on their way to the Huascarán National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
We aim for this model to be replicated in other small villages throughout the region. In fact, the school teachers who initially expressed the need for the local history have asked that we follow them on their teaching assignments to the other 30 or so small villages in the Huaylas Province to assist in similar oral history projects.
If you agree with me that the oral history project is an exciting and innovative means to inform and educate rural communities about their rich cultural heritage, I ask that you consider making a donation to PIARA to help fund this stage of the project. We are optimistic about future funding, and have received some grant support already, but are in need of immediate contributions to complete this first stage. Your consideration of making a donation to PIARA in any amount, large or small, is greatly appreciated.