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Mass Communication Students Help Tell Story of WWI Veteran from York

November 23, 2020
Text Reads: Keystone Oral Histories Presents

Written by: Rebekah Eyre
Senior Administrative Assistant, Center for Community Engagement at York College of Pennsylvania

When Mass Communication majors Heather Fiore ‘22, Mykela Heidel ‘22, and Morrissey Walsh ‘23 learned about an opportunity to help tell the story of African American WWI veteran George A. Wood through a documentary film, they were inspired to get involved.

Connecting with History

All three students felt connected to the project from the beginning. “It is an amazing feeling to help tell the stories of these veterans,” says Fiore. “The stories of veterans like George Wood have been misinterpreted over time and I am happy to be able to tell the world the truth about the heroes of York County.”

For Walsh, the project is an opportunity not only to support a great cause but also to gain practical experience in her field. “I am a history minor, and enjoy learning about the compelling stories of veterans, as well as using the skills learned in my communication classes to develop this project.”

Heidel, a York County native, also felt a personal connection to the project. “Growing up in York County, I have a strong appreciation for the rich history and stories of the York community.”

Keystones Oral Histories Presents the Story of George A. Wood

Beyond the Classroom

The short film is part of a larger initiative led by Bryan Wade, founder of Keystones Oral Histories, to document the often neglected stories of African American veterans in York County. Keystones Oral Histories and the York College Center for Community Engagement formed a partnership earlier this year, providing York College students with the opportunity to be involved in many facets of the initiative including research, filmmaking, curriculum development, archiving, and more.

Fiore, Heidel, and Walsh were encouraged by their professors, Jeffrey Schiffman and Craig DoVidio, to participate in the project. Working with Wade, the students used research to develop interview questions and prepare for filming at the Center for Community Engagement in downtown York. The process gave them experience in planning, logistics, and working with clients, allowing them to apply their academic knowledge outside of the classroom.

“We had to develop a plan around where and when we were going to film, what filming gear we were going to need, and how we were all going to get to the interview destination,” explains Heidel. Once they were in the space, they had to figure out how best to set up the equipment, prepare the scene, and ensure that the interviewees were comfortable.

The students then spent several weeks editing the video, learning new skills in the process. “Editing was my favorite part of the experience because I had the opportunity to learn how to use software that I had never touched before,” says Fiore.

Though it was challenging for the students to coordinate their schedules and merge their different editing styles, they feel that their hard work paid off. “We are all extremely proud of the final product,” says Walsh. 

Still, this film is only the beginning. The three students have already begun to work on a second documentary video with Keystones Oral Histories, which they hope to have completed by the end of the year.

We are very excited to see where this journey with Keystones Oral Histories takes us," says Fiore, "and we are extremely grateful for this incredible opportunity.”

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