Southern Discomfort

2 October 2018
poultry factory
Poultry factory | Photo: Earl Dotter

Zobeida Chaffee-Valdes ’19 had a quiet summer, but not a slow or uninteresting one.

Chaffee-Valdes (Los Angeles) interned for the Southern Oral History Program at the University of North Carolina (UNC) in Chapel Hill. She spent most of her time listening to and reflecting on voice recordings—a rarity in today’s technology-crazed, instant sound bite culture.

A history major and archaeology and medieval and Renaissance studies minor, Chaffee-Valdes created abstracts for long-form interviews compiled by UNC’s Center for the Study of the American South. Since 1973, the center’s Southern Oral History Program has collected some 6,000 interviews with people from all walks of life.

“The interviews are not all accessible online,” says Chaffee-Valdes. “We want to get them out there so they’re not just gathering dust in a library. I’ve learned so much about the civil rights movement, desegregation, and the Vietnam era.”

She listened to interviews with gay men about living in the South and with Guatemalan immigrants about their work in North Carolina poultry factories.

“One reason I came to Carleton was to get away from the West Coast and experience a different part of America,” Chaffee-Valdes says. “There’s a lot to be said for getting out of your comfort zone regionally, and I’ve definitely experienced that this summer.”

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