Over three days during the Spring 2022 English Language (ELA) courses at Tacoma Community House, 17 oral history interviews were conducted by the Community Archives Center of the Tacoma Public Library. Tacoma Community House offers services to many immigrant and refugee populations in the Puget Sound area. These personal stories contribute to Tacoma’s current historical record and provide insight into the lives of underrepresented immigrant and refugee groups. Ten questions were provided to the speakers and allow us to learn about their contexts, viewpoints and experiences.
The questions included: 1) Where are you from? Where is your home country? Tell us about it. 2) Share your document or cultural/family object. What does it mean to you? Why? 3) Who is your family? Describe them. Share your family photograph(s). 4) How did you get to Tacoma, Washington? When? Why? 5) What did you think the Unites States would be like? How was it different? 6) What was your first American experience? 7) What food do you enjoy? Share your favorite recipe. 8) What is your favorite music or song? Why is it your favorite? 9) Why do you want to share your story? What do you want people to learn from you? 10) What do you hope for your future? What do you hope the future will bring?
Oral history interview with Tacoma resident Lorenzo Cervantes conducted by dindria barrow on August 23, 2022. In this interview, Lorenzo talks about his passion for HIV Prevention as well as education overall. Lorenzo describes how education was the primary way that his life changed and that it was a gift given to him by his immigrant parents. He knew at a young age that he loved differently and was gay. He also knew about injustice at a young age because he was ignored for not speaking English or looking white. Lorenzo leaves us with this advice: “A child needs advocates when they go to school… Education is key for everything…a way of getting out of poverty…we need to support our youth to be able to have the schooling that they deserve to have. [and] About HIV right now, is that we don’t hear about it as much as we should; it’s still an epidemic…talk about it with your friends, talk about it with your family, and even with your mom.” Lorenzo is the Prevention Director of the Pierce County AIDS Foundation (PCAF).
Oral history interview with Tacoma resident Chace Hunter conducted by dindria barrow on August 25, 2022. In this interview, Chace talks about his family immigrating to Hilltop, Tacoma in 1993, then moving to South Tacoma in 1998, graduating from Western Washington University as well as University of Washington-Tacoma and then buying a home in Hilltop as an adult. Chace’s family fled Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge and were refugees in Thailand before coming to Tacoma. He is bilingual and has been married to his husband for six years. Chace has a passion for poetry, psychology, non-profits and nursing. Chace fell in love with his HIV Prevention work and is now the executive director of the AIDS Housing Association of Tacoma (AHAT Homecare). AHAT Homecare provides 24-hour home care, affordable housing/case management, and rental vouchers to the local HIV+ community. To paraphrase Chace: “I love giving back to the community, especially during a time of houselessness, and helping to provide homes to people in need.”