Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Cedar Mill's Immigrant Oral Histories are all posted

Cedar Mill Community Library has posted the last of this years oral history project podcast. They will be added to the library’s permanent local history collection.

Community members who have immigrated, or have family members who immigrated, were invited to share their stories. Under the direction of Sunset High School history teacher Matt Hiefield, students interviewed and recorded the participants’ stories.

Cedar Mill librarian Mark Richardson then edited and posted the stories as podcasts on the library’s website.

Here are the most recent podcasts posted:

photo, Chann NounChann Noun is a local immigrant from Cambodia who lived under the brutal Khmer Rouge regime in the late seventies and early eighties. He eventually fled Cambodia and lived in a refugee camp for four years before coming to the US to rebuild his life here. He struggled with the language once here but thrived with the help of his host family, the Livesays.

photo, Elin Helene Simmons as a childElin Helene Simmons was born here but traveled to Sweden to live with her family when she was young. Born to a Swedish father and a Norwegian mother, she eventually returned to the States as a child to settle in California as her dad pursued his radio career. She and her husband moved to Portland after they retired to be closer to their children.

photo, Chris GniewoszChris Gniewosz was born in Canada to Polish immigrants of nobility who fled Poland to escape persecution during World War II. They moved to the Portland area after living in Canada. Mr. Gniewosz has written two books with his mother about these experiences called Noble Youth and Noble Flight, available in our collections.

photo, Reinhart and Wilhema EngelmannReinhart Engelmann and his wife Wilhema. German immigrant Reinhart talks about working in the high tech field in the US and being a professor here. He also discusses life during and after WW2 Germany. Wilhelma, a Yugoslavian immigrant of German descent, discusses what life in the US was like for a mother raising her children in a foreign country with limited English language skills. She also discusses what being an immigrant in Germany was like compared to the US.

photo, Alice Koppel Kern as a childAlice (Koppel) Kern was born in the small town of Sighet, Romania in 1923. Twenty one years later, she experienced the horrors of both Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, imprisoned during WW II along with millions of other European Jews. In 1944, all Jews in the small town of Alice’s birth were rounded up and shipped off to Poland. Alice and her mother were among them. They were allowed only the clothes on their backs.

Alice survived but weighed less than 50 lbs. when she and her fellow prisoners were liberated by American forces after the war. The Swedish Red Cross transported her to Helsingborg, Sweden, where she began her recorvery and sought to be reunited with the surviving members of her family. It was there in Sweden that she met her future husband, Hugo Kern. Alice and Hugo immigrated to the United States in 1948. They made their home in Portland OR and raised 4 daughters. Ms. Kern describes her experiences in her book Tapestry of Hope and in the video A Journey to Remember, available in our collections.