Newcomers in New York: The Interview Sessions


In keeping align with my methodological approach utilizing multimedia to conduct collaborative ethnography; the latest installments of the project were interview workshops.  In general, skill development workshops are a major component of this project.  The workshops focus on creative reconnaissance and technological skill building activities.  The participants and I work together (and with local experts) to learn more about different aspects of photography, video, and audio equipment and techniques, editing programs, blogging, creative writing, and more.  Furthermore, another purpose of the meetings and workshops is to familiarize the participants with the greater New York City area.

Last week, I met with the young ladies, in groups of two, at Washington Square in Manhattan. Throughout the day, each participant was able to enter and observe New York University’s Bobst Library (where they were granted limited access to the stacks and facility!), the Tisch School of Art’s ITP lab (the Interactive Telecommunications Program, where we borrow the 5D camera and audio recording equipment), and the CLACS office and rooms (the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, where the footage was actually recorded).  Each pair played artistic directors in setting the stage for their interview session. Unfortunately, a light decided to begin its slow, blinking decline during the “talk show” style interview, but the cameras kept rolling in order to maintain the “flow” of the conversation.  Claritza and Valin decided that a conversation style would be the most comfortable and effective approach. 

Rosanna and Nayanna took a different approach than Claritza and Valin for this project.  Instead if a “talk show” style interview they decided to position Rosanna behind the camera, posing questions for Nayanna to answer.  In this exercise, Nayanna surprised herself— speaking with ease and honesty.  Rosanna was able to put into practice her broadcasting skills as she led her line of questioning with such fluidity that Nayanna was able to flow naturally with her responses.  Afterwards, Rosanna revealed her secret to interviewing: she listened to Nayanna’s responses and tried to continue focusing her questions along the same tangent.

Claritza and Valin Interview from mar cadena on Vimeo.


The goal of the workshop was to offer another opportunity to familiarize them with the Canon 5D, a tripod, and a Zoom handheld audio recorder, in addition to practicing interviewing and formalized English conversation skills. Of course, before the camera was rolling, nerves were high; however, they quickly became immersed into the flow.  They knew the ”right” questions to ask without any input from me.  Their experiences in the same situation, in the same high school, and with the same amount of time in New York — vary greatly.  This came as a surprise to some of them, as you can see in the video of Claritza and Valin.  Language acquisition, perceptions of education, and experience immigrating with family or alone, are among the many issues that each young woman, like every immigrant, endures and overcomes.

Please check out The Summer After blog to share comments, questions, or your own stories!

Posted by Marisa Cadena Belski – MA Candidate at CLACS at NYU

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