The mist was rising from the treetops as each of us approached the picturesque home of Neda Nobari, our gracious hostess for the 18th Oral History Circle. Students, under the tutelage of Drs. Myrna and Harvey Frommer intermingled. Many were meeting one another for the first time, discussing their individual projects, Independent Studies, theses completed and underway as well as stories of recording stories whose topics were as diverse as the students themselves, ranging from New York food trucks to national parks. The tradition of Oral History was indeed alive and well in this celebration of preserving the past.
But all was not serious academics. An impromptu tour of Ms. Nobari's "barn" led to some competitive table tennis and foosball matches that ended just in time for the traditional Circle Presentations announced by the talented clarinetist Nicholas Graham who set a creative mood with his interpretation of the introduction to Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" followed by a pair of Stravinsky movements. He was followed by Danielle Clayton's description of the thesis she is working on: women who are or have been incarcerated in New Hampshire and Vermont prisons. Brian Mann then discussed his in-progress thesis which explores how an elite Ivy League institution like Dartmouth College manages to sustain competitive athletics in a challenging academic environment. Chris Li talked about her thesis which is an oral history focused on China's "One Child Policy," and Jennifer Johnson gave a brief historical overview of Dartmouth's participation in the Olympics, the subject of her thesis. Finally, long-time MALS oral history alum Allen Sherman, together with his partner Marian Nelson, related their years'-long adventure in documenting the accomplishments of St. Lucia's artists and writers in an oral history format.
Among the thirty-eight people in attendance for this 18th Oral History Circle were Wolé Ojurongbe, Director of the MALS program, and his ebullient wife Sally. The event was replete with good food, drink, and stimulating conversation, not to mention musical performances by Nicholas and, on the piano, Tyler Walton – all in the lovely surroundings of Neda's sensational spread tucked into the rolling hills of Meriden, New Hampshire.