During the Spring of 2014, Bethel’s Associate Dean of Intercultural Student Programs & Services Leah Fulton and I were talking about ways that we could share stories of students of color at Bethel. She came up with the idea of filming interviews with students of color who where about to graduate.
We sent out a call to all of the graduating students of color at Bethel to see if anyone would be willing to sit down for an interview and ended up having six students agree to individual interviews. It was really wonderful to have the opportunity to spend time with these students as they shared their stories. That summer we edited these individual interviews in an 88-minute film which intercut their stories.
In subsequent years, Leah and I continued to interview students and to record their stories. When Leah Fulton left her position in Student Life to pursue further graduate study, Priscilla Kibler stepped into her role, and we continued on with the project.
As someone who has spent half of my life in the Bethel community, these films can be hard to watch. I am deeply moved by the honesty of these students. What they have to say is very important. When we started this project, our goal was to collect student stories to be able to share them with other students, faculty, and administration. I feel like I have learned a great deal from these students about their experiences and the experiences of other students of color at Bethel.
As an historian, these videos represent the types of projects that are closest to my heart. I love the idea of creating an outlet for people to leave a record of their stories. I love being able to find ways to share these stories with the Bethel community. I also have hope in the possibility that these interviews and the interviews that we film in the future will serve as a primary source for future historians of this institution.