Girl Scout’s ‘history’ project earns her the coveted Gold Award
By Emily DeRuy
Last summer, while many soon-to-be high school seniors were relishing their last few months of freedom, Emily Hogue was painstakingly compiling oral histories of senior citizens at the Gary & Mary West Senior Wellness Center, part of the Senior Community Centers of San Diego.
The Bishop’s School senior, a member of Girl Scout Troop 3451 since first grade, recently earned her Gold Award, the highest honor in Girl Scouting, for a project that involved transcribing the histories of underrepresented seniors into binders that she then donated to the senior center and the San Diego Historical Society.
The Gold Award, earned by less than 10 percent of Scouts ages 14-18, requires girls to develop and execute projects that serve their communities. Each girl who “goes for the Gold” must submit a project proposal and a final report to their Girl Scout Council, and work with an advisor who helps guide them through more than eighty hours of service.
Emily settled upon compiling oral histories after her mother mentioned a friend in San Francisco who collected oral histories. Having served breakfast at the Senior Center, Emily knew the population was comprised of transient and often homeless individuals, people without families with whom they could share their stories.
After gaining approval from Girl Scouts and organizing fellow classmates interested in helping her with the project, Emily began traveling to the center weekly, meeting and interviewing a vibrant collection of individuals.
“At first I was kind of nervous, but then I was excited,” said Emily. “It was fun talking to and meeting people. They all had such interesting stories.”
Jane Kenealy, archivist at the San Diego History Center, provided Emily training in taking oral histories, which she passed on to her classmates.
“We have a large oral history collection,” said Kenealy, “but it made me excited because she decided to take a portion of the population you wouldn’t necessarily think of.”
Documenting such a fluid population proved difficult at times. Typically a three-part, three-day process involving a pre-interview questionnaire, an interview, and a post-interview discussion, Emily instead collected each oral history in one sitting. In all, Emily and her volunteers completed 18 oral histories.
Many of the people with whom Emily spoke came to the United States from South America, or served in wars overseas. Some suffer from debilitating diseases. Each has a history, and many of them were pleased to see young people taking the time to listen.
“It’s fun to read the interviews and see how the elders and the teenagers interacted,” said Martha Guy, Emily’s mother. “It’s so good for the kids to go see these people. The stories are so poignant.”
Jane Kenealy, the archivist, agrees.
“I was so impressed with Emily’s project,” she said. “The standard was excellent, and we gladly accepted it.”
Emily received final approval from Girl Scouts in December. She will be presented with her Gold Award at a ceremony this spring.
To view Emily’s project: Visit the San Diego Historical Society, 1649 El Prado, Suite 3, Balboa Park. (619) 232-6203.
- New name, big plans for Women’s History Museum in 2011
- David Whyte returns to La Jolla Yoga Center
- La Jolla’s BEST BETS for events, week of Jan. 6-15
- Zombies needed to set ‘Thriller’ record
- Artist, architect to speak at forum
Short URL: http://www.lajollalight.com/?p=35372