Report from Amplifying Unheard Voices 2014

Posted on July 11, 2014 |

Report from Amplifying Unheard Voices 2014

by Natalie Catasús

On the first day of Amplifying Unheard Voices, Education Program Director Cliff Mayotte posed a big question: why does telling stories matter? It was a question our group would return to over and over again during the four day oral history training run by the Voice of Witness Education Program.

Cliff and Claire, the Education Program Associate, spoke to a room of 30 participants, a new record for the summer training. The crowd who had gathered at Berkeley High School for the event came from an incredible array of backgrounds. Educators, activists, writers, artists, journalists, and community organizers traveled from all over the Bay Area and California, and some even came from as far as Texas and New Hampshire. While some were new to oral history and others were more experienced, all of the participants brought their curiosity to the table, excited to learn from each other’s work and exchange ideas about the practical and ethical aspects of teaching and producing oral history.

Click here to read more.

Invisible Hands

Posted on July 7, 2014 |

Now Available from VOICE OF WITNESS


INVISIBLE HANDS: Voices from the Global Economy

Edited by Corinne Goria with a Foreword by Kalpona Akter

The men and women in this oral history collection reveal the human rights abuses occurring behind the scenes of the global economy. These narrators—including phone manufacturers in China, copper miners in Zambia, garment workers in Bangladesh, and farmers around the world—reveal the secret history of the things we buy, including lives and communities devastated by low wages, environmental degradation, and political repression. Sweeping in scope and rich in detail, these stories capture the interconnectivity of all people struggling to support themselves and their families.

Narrators include:

KALPONA, a leading Bangladeshi labor organizer who led her first strike at fifteen while working in a garment factory. As an adult, she now faces arrest, torture, and constant surveillance for her work.

ALBERT, a copper miner in Zambia who, during a wage protest, was shot by representatives of the Chinese-owned mining company that he worked for. Desperate for a living wage, Albert attempted to resume work with the company after months in the hospital.

SANJAY, who grew up in the shadow of the Bhopal chemical disaster, one of the worst industrial accidents in history. As an adult, Sanjay fights for recognition of the damage still wrought on his community even decades after the gas leak that killed thousands.

HYE-KYEONG, who, as a teenager, began assembling circuit boards for an international electronics company based in Seoul. Though she was paid a living wage, Hye-Kyeong was one of many co-workers who developed cancers or tumors at a young age.

About the Editor:

Corinne Goria is a writer, lawyer and Assistant Editor of Underground America: Narratives of Undocumented Lives, Voice of Witness’ collection of oral histories from undocumented immigrants in the United States. She is based in San Diego.

About the Forwarder:

Kalpona Akter is an internationally-recognized labor rights advocate. She is the executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity (BCWS) and is herself a former child garment worker. BCWS is regarded by the international labor rights movement as among the most effective grassroots labor organizations in Bangladesh. Kalpona’s work has been covered extensively by local and international media, including ABC, BBC, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal.


In order to conduct interviews of those most affected by human rights crises in the global economy, Voice of Witness has partnered with numerous organizations and scholars, among them:

International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF)

Sweatfree Communities

Good Electronics

Basel Action Network (BAN)

Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM) (Hong Kong)

Bangladesh Centre for Worker Solidarity (BCWIS)

Citizens for a Better Environment (Zambia),

Annie Leonard’s The Story of Stuff Project

Pesticide Action Network (PANNA)

EcoViva (El Salvador)

Centro de Apoyo del Trabajador (Puebla, Mexico)

NISGUA (Guatemala)

International Campaign for Responsible Technology (ICRT)

Uzbek-German Human Rights Forum

International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal

International Longshore & Warehouse Workers’ Union (ILWU)

Supporters for the Health And Rights of People in the Semiconductor industry (SHARPS)

California Rural Legal Assistance

Dr. Lisa Rofel, Professor and Chair, Department of Anthropology, UC Santa Cruz; Dr. Ching Kwan Lee, Professor of Sociology at UCLA; Dr. Alastair Fraser, Professor of Political Science, Cambridge University; Dr. Miles Larmer, University of Sheffield; and Dr. Gregor Murray of the University of Montreal are among the contributing scholars for this book.


This project, and the work of Voice of Witness, is made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.

To support outreach and educational work for this book, just click here.

Amplifying Unheard Voices: Summer 2014 Oral History Training for Classroom and Community Educators

Posted on March 3, 2014 |

Training postcard 2014 FRONT(2)

Communication Arts and Sciences at Berkeley High School, 1980 Allston Way, Berkeley, CA 94703

For directions, visit: 

June 23 – 26
9:30 am – 4:30 pm

This unique 4-day training will highlight the power of personal narrative and provide educators with the tools to conduct oral history projects in their classrooms and communities. Workshop participants will engage in an interactive process that introduces the skills, ethics, and social significance of creating oral history, as exemplified by Voice of Witness and other leading practitioners in the field.


Our sliding scale tuition makes the training accessible for a broad range of educators.
Please pay what your school, community, or organization can support!


• Conduct and share an oral history interview
• Hone transcribing and editing skills
• Read and discuss narratives from the Voice of Witness book series
• Incorporate activities from The Power of the Story: The Voice of Witness Teacher’s Guide to Oral History 
• Work in small groups to share educational strategies and best practices
• Work with members of the Voice of Witness staff and prominent local oral history/humanities educators The training is geared towards new and experienced educators alike, and is particularly useful for teachers of history, social studies, social justice, English and the arts. Amplifying Unheard Voices aligns with several Common Core Curricular Standards, particularly in the areas of Reading History and Informational Texts, Speaking and Listening, and Language, in addition to promoting cultural competency, literacy, and critical thinking skills. The training is also relevant for community cultural workers, non profit organizations, advocates and artists.


After completion of the training, participants will be better able to empower their communities to create their own oral history projects, including:

• Books
• Photo essays
• Podcasts
• Websites and blogs
• Live performances


Download registration form here

Cliff Mayotte, Education Program Director, Voice of Witness


“From sharing deep-reaching stories of our lives to hands-on technical training, the Voice of Witness workshop also offered a nourishing space for professional renewal.”

- Shanti Elliot, Director of Community Connections, Francis W. Parker School, Chicago, IL 

“Oral history, and the literacy skills that go along with it, should be built into the map of what all teachers teach.”

- Trevor Gardner, Lead Humanities Teacher, Envision Academy, Oakland, CA 

“ It was an amazing professional development experience. I learned so much about the power of stories and the art and craft of bringing out voices that might otherwise be silenced or overlooked.”

- Amy Crawford, Communication Arts and Sciences, Berkeley High School 

“The Voice of Witness training provides insightful guidance in unearthing our stories: in finding our own voice as educators, researchers, and community leaders… A hands-on learning experience that strengthens our ability to listen, connect, recognize.”

- Juliana Delgado Lopera, Writer/Editor