Open Heartland – Summer 2022 Internship

Internship focus: Oral histories of recently arrived Latina/o immigrants

About the organization

Open Heartland is a grassroots, community-based initiative that serves Latino immigrant families living in Johnson County, many of whom have escaped violence, extreme poverty, and lack of educational and health resources. Located at 3 E. Benton Street, Open Heartland offers multiple services that include tutoring, a tienda that provides clothing and house goods, a free medical clinic, and more. 

About the internship

Many of the parents and other adults in the Open Heartland community chose to come to the United States at great risk to themselves. They left behind traditions, friends and family, work, and many familiar things that had provided them a sense of identity. In many cases, they made this difficult choice in order for their children to receive an education and have access to greater opportunities. It’s an old but familiar story—the parents arrive in a new place and their stories are forgotten as their children begin to assimilate to a new home.

Open Heartland wants to capture these stories before they’re forgotten and celebrate them. We are seeking an intern who can help us to start an oral history project and consider other ways to tell and preserve these stories. 

Intern’s work responsibilities

Responsibilities will include:

  • Work with Open Heartland’s director and advisory council to consider what kinds of stories to collect and how they might be used; develop questions with insight from these mentors.
  • Spend time at Open Heartland (our doors are open from 2 pm to 5 pm and on some nights and weekends) getting to know our community.
  • Attend sessions about how to collect oral histories, including technical and ethical questions, from the UI’s Community Archive librarian.
  • Collect oral histories with participants at Open Heartland.
  • Develop a template / guidebook for future volunteers who will continue this project.
  • Help Open Heartland develop ways to share collected stories with the greater community in order to build awareness and empathy of the experiences of recently arrived immigrants. 

Qualifications & skills preferred

  • Because trust is key to this project, the intern must be proficient in Spanish; a native speaker is preferred
  • Familiarity with oral histories or a strong interest in storytelling and/or community archiving 
  • Highly organized and able to create and maintain a schedule
  • Ability to work with multiple mentors for differing purposes (i.e., learn technical skills from one mentor while producing material for another)
  • Ability to be sensitive and discrete with vulnerable populations.
  • Ease in talking with individuals whose life experiences may be radically different from one’s own.
  • Understanding of issues facing recent immigrants from Central and South America

Location, hours, & reporting

This internship reports to Deb Dunkhase, Open Heartland’s co-founder and director, and is sited at 3 E. Benton Street. The intern will also report to Aiden Bettine, Community and Student Life Archivist at UI Special Collections, for technical training. While much of this job can occur during regular business hours, some evening and weekend work will be necessary to meet the needs of interviewees.