Kim-Hee Wong (2018)

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Word Search Wizard.

Hawaiian Hula Dancer.

Chinese Yum Cha Connisuer.

Korean Kim Chee Maker.

This is me: Kim-Hee Wong.

Aloha! Growing up in Hawaiʻi we are surrounded by lush green mountains, beautiful beaches and a variety of cultures and people from around the world. I love to run on the beach, hike mountains and chase waterfalls. When not listening to podcasts, my Spotify playlists rotates between pop, R&B, acoustic and Hawaiian music. Despite my experience as a Starbucks barista, I prefer to drink cups of green tea all day. I love going on adventures, trying new foods and exchanging stories of different communities and cultures. I am excited to share the moʻolelo, stories, of my people and bring their voices back to life. It is my hope that by doing so the aloha spirit will carry on.

Heesup Kimm (2018)


I earned my B.A. from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Political Science. 

I have been searching vigorously for the opportunity that would help me develop certain skills I needed for my future projects and enable me to achieve my career goal which is to support and provide aids specific groups of individuals, especially the patients from minority backgrounds and the elderlies who have difficulties communicating with other cultures due to lack of language abilities. 

I am originally from Seoul, South Korea. And as an immigrant myself, who also has a non-native English speaking background, I've seen numerous people facing similar challenges due to their lack of local language skills. Not knowing the local language is the biggest obstacle in the way of successful expat assignments because it leads to bigger challenges like relocating family, finding appropriate housing, and organizing tax affairs, etc.

In addition to my recent research project at NYU, I have participated in a variety of volunteer services in different places including South Korea and the United States. As a volunteer, I not only found it rewarding in terms of what was achieved, but also discovered talents in myself that I had not appreciated before. 

I believe that the goals Columbia University's OHMA program pursues are no different from mine. I wish to make changes, no matter what sizes they are, that eventually sparks a big influence in our society, through new challenges and opportunities I will be experiencing in the near future. 

Rebecca McGilveray (2018)

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Rebecca comes to Columbia from Glasgow, Scotland and is the first Scottish student to join the OHMA programme. She has recently graduated from the University of Strathclyde with a degree, with honours in History. At school, Rebecca never particularly enjoyed History – finding that it was less about understanding and more about passing an exam. She found more joy in listening to her grandparents and Great Aunts recalling their lives and the adventures they had been on. Only later on, while at university did she discover Oral History and finally found a discipline that felt intuitive and natural to her. Her dissertation ‘The Bucky Made Me Do It’: Exploring Glasgow’s relationship with Buckfast and its Impact on Crime, Deindustrialisation and the Glasgow Effect’ used oral history testimonials to form the backbone of her research into a heavily neglected aspect of Glasgow’s history. Her research interests include histories of addiction, toxic masculinity, homelessness and how conceptualisations of the body and self influence Oral History testimonies. She is looking forward to broadening her horizons outside the context of her home city and cannot wait to join this year’s cohort at OHMA.

Nairy Abdelshafy (2018)

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Nairy is an enthusiastic social activist with a passion for community service and social work. An Egyptian Fulbright Scholar to the OHMA program, she draws from her experience to document movement and transition narratives for social change. She has worked and volunteered on non- formal education, self expression and intercultural learning with children, youth, adults and refugee communities for over ten years and has worked on documenting narratives of identity and movement with Palestinian and Syrian refugees in Cairo, New Damietta and Port Said, and Nubians' reflections on displacement in Aswan. She appreciates food, enjoys travel and believes one has to be laid back to be able to take on life and take in its beauty.


Monica Liuting (2016)

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Monica Liuting comes to OHMA with an MA of English Literature from China University of Geosciences, Beijing. She worked as a volunteer worker in Changzhu Historical and Cultural Ancient Town Program (Shannan, Tibet) as an interviewer and writer after graduation.

Monica came to OHMA with an interest in exploring the construct of the narrative in sociological, literary, and oral historical domains. She was an intern with the Queer Newark Oral History Project in 2016 and is working on her thesis project on Chinese Young Artists in 2017.

Carlin Zia (2017)

Carlin comes to OHMA from a literature background, having graduated with distinction in English from Yale College. She brings with her a love of language and narrative and writing, and is excited to get up to speed on social science theory and audio/visual mediums. For the last year she has been working on a project with her Chinese-born grandfather to record his life story, and in so doing to engage more deliberately with her own Asian\American identity. After a couple months she learned that what she was doing was a real thing and it was called Oral History. The rest is ongoing.








Lynn Lewis (2017)


Lynn Lewis: I am a life-long social justice worker who believes in the power of collective analysis and direct action to win justice. Having witnessed the strength and resourcefulness of folks who have chosen to join with others in social justice work I am committed to document those stories and to amplify those lessons.  From housing struggles on the Lower East Side, to revolutionary Nicaragua and Venezuela, what has always inspired me is that each of us has the potential to make change. I met the co-founders of Picture the Homeless in 2000 just after its founding, and am honored to have worked with and learned from the incredible homeless leaders who together have built the only homeless led organization in NYC, and one of the few nationally for seventeen years. I wanted to learn the art and science of oral history to document the work of Picture the Homeless as well as other social movements, and to share those brilliant and nuanced organizing lessons. 

The OHMA program expanded my understanding of how to do that in so many ways.  It became an intellectual home and a place to initiate an oral history practice rooted in social justice.  As I began interviewing for the Picture the Homeless Oral History Project I started out thinking like an organizer with a tape recorder but engaging with an initial cohort of long time homeless leaders while I was in the program informed my praxis.  I’ve been calling this approach participatory oral history research (POHR).  Since graduating, I continue to deepen my understanding of oral history with the Picture the Homeless Oral History project.  My focus now is to continue interviewing but also to support the participation of the narrators who have committed to serve on the projects advisory board and to understand what that means, and what that will take.   I’ve begun integrating lessons embedded in the interviews in my work as a trainer in community organizing and have created short audio pieces that illustrate themes contained within the narrators stories. Facilitating a weekend retreat with a homeless organizing group in Baltimore revealed how powerfully organizing lessons can be transmitted via audio.

I have also been working with oral history as a tool to write memoirs with two NYC social justice elders, and continue to consult as a community organizing trainer, a grant-writer and occasionally adjuncting.  I also sit on the boards of two Community Land Trusts in NYC in my effort to help create alternative models to capitalist development.

Dian Zi (2017)

Originally from Shanghai, China, Dian Zi joins the 2017 OHMA cohort as a recent graduate of Sarah Lawrence College where she concentrated in History and Public Policy. Her interest in oral history stems from her curiosity of her family's experience of the Cultural Revolution. With the desire to learn a different and genuine perspective on history, she attended Sarah Lawrence College with the intention to study East Asian History. As a first-year student, Dian took a seminar, "Multimedia Use of Oral History" with Professor Gerry Albarelli. She was intrigued by the value of oral history- encouraging the narrators to recollect the personal details of public history, clarifying the memories which are muddled, and most importantly, broaching answers that people were afraid to recall. Oral history presents her an opportunity to ask the questions she always wanted to know of her family her country.

Since her first foregather with oral history, Dian has decided to record more stories of the unheard people during her undergraduate study. In her sophomore year, she completed a documentary called "Borders" about a North Korean refugee named Jinhye Jo. In her junior year, she recorded an oral history project "Individualizing Africa" on women in Tanzania, Malawi, and Zimbabwe. In her senior year, she conducted a senior oral history project called "The Many Faces of Us: An Oral History of Modern Feminism in China" to reveal and preserve the unheard stories of the the seemingly futile battle against misogynist patriarchy in China. Oral history has become her approach to make peace with the chaotic world and to remake connections with people she adores.

Her post-graduate intentions are not only to pursue her dream as an oral historian, but also to introduce the concept of oral history to her people in China. In addition, she calls herself a "hardcore feminist", Dian writes on the cause of gender equality, and looks forward to apply the oral history skills to gather and present collective stories of feminists of her generation. She currently resides in Bronxville, NY with her husband, also an advocate of oral history.

Desmond Austin-Miller (2017)

Desmond Austin-Miller joins the 2017 OHMA cohort as a recent graduate of Lafayette College where he majored in Anthropology & Sociology with a minor in Africana Studies. A native of Washington D.C., Desmond spent his summers in the District working in various spheres of the non-profit scene in education administration and homeless advocacy. Desmond hopes to further explore his research interests at Columbia in human rights activism, homelessness, power, race, and a multitude of other topics through the methodological lens of oral history.

Yiyi Zhang (2017)

Yiyi Zhang graduated from Brandeis University with a B.A. in Philosophy and from Columbia University with a M.A. in Philosophy. Her interests shift from Philosophy to Oral History in 2016 as she was involved in a Oral History project. She is specifically interested in giving the oppressed group voice, the ignored people attention and building understanding and nurturing compassion through oral history. Yiyi is a world traveler. Besides countries in North America and Europe, she has also been to countries in South Asia, Central Asia and Africa for volunteer works and independent studies. Yiyi is always ready to encounter and be inspired by new people and new stories.

Yameng Xia (2017)

When I was an undergraduate student at Fudan University, I participated in an oral history project aimed to explore the living conditions of 50 Shanghai intellectual disabled people and their families. I conducted a survey of two of the families and performed the interview, the observation, and wrote a 20000-word report.


After that, I have realized that oral history is not only a method to provide new historical data, but also a method to record the life experiences of vulnerable groups and to raise the public awareness to help such group, such as disabled people, women, and educated youths who are in bad living conditions, which would add more excitement to me in OHMA.

Valerie Fendt (2017)

While working in the technically and physically demanding professions of bicycle messenger, theatrical stagehand, and bookbinder/conservation technician, Valerie Fendt fed her intellectual hunger through literature, film, the study of liberation struggles, and the camaraderie of fellow artists/activists. Since coming to Columbia University, she has been delighted to discover that she could not only build on this non-traditional educational background but also thrive in the academy as a passionate student of history, culture and politics.  She graduated summa cum laude in 2017 with departmental honors for her History thesis, “Paradigm Shift: The Standing Rock Sioux and the Struggle of Our Time.”

With the strong belief that creating space for and seeking out marginalized voices helps to facilitate freedom for everyone and enriches the whole of society, Valerie is thrilled to join the Oral History graduate program. She looks forward to developing the skills necessary to gather and present those voices in a way that broadens our collective sense of history and invites new meaning into the public conversation.

Samantha Lombard (2017)

Samantha Lombard is from Massachusetts and graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst Commonwealth Honors College with Bachelor’s degrees in History and Art History in 2016. The research for her senior thesis, Social Media, the Western World, and UNESCO: ISIS and the Destruction of Ancient Art, centered on the relationship between ISIS and Western media, as well the affect of ISIS on ancient Syrian and Iraqi art and architecture. The thesis also discusses the role of oral history in the Yazidi genocide. Samantha plans to focus her Oral History Master of Arts program of study on the potential for oral history in documenting and preventing genocide.

Tomoko Kubota-Hiramoto (2017)

Tomoko Kubota is an oral historian, journalist, and Ph.D student based in Tokyo. As an oral historian, she is passionate about preserving war memories in Japan, and works closely as a consultant with the Okinawa Memories Initiative—where she collaborates with another OHMA alum—and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. She has also been published widely as a freelance journalist, drawing on 16 years of experience as a newscaster and reporter for Tokyo Broadcasting Systems Television, the leading nationwide TV network. Currently she writes “Kubota Tomoko’s Oral History,” a regular column for Newsweek Japan that’s based on her interviews with people all across the country. She is a Ph.D. student at Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Information Studies of the University of Tokyo, where she is researching the application of oral history methodologies to family dialogues and connecting people and communities.

Kyna Patel (2017)

Kyna Patel is originally from Lakeland, Florida. She graduated from New College of Florida in 2015 with a B.A. in Anthropology. Her first experience with oral history was in 2013 when she interviewed a third gender community in Bahucharaji, India about religion and gender identity.

Kyna's research interests include race, identity, local history, foreign language, gender, immigration, borders, movement, visual culture, and civil rights. Recently she was an English Teaching Assistant in Germany through the Fulbright Program and was one of several members of the Diversity Group. She is an avid photographer and enjoys reading fiction

Filip Mazurczak (2017)

Filip Mazurczak holds a BA in Spanish and Hispanic Studies and History from Creighton University as well as an MA in International Affairs from the George Washington University. Since graduating, he has worked as a journalist, Polish-to-English translator (of academic publications and of fiction), and English teacher. Many of his nearly 150 published articles have dealt with historical topics. 

Currently, he is pursuing a PhD in history at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow. His academic articles have been published or accepted for publication in the Oral History ReviewPolin: Studies in Polish Jewry, and Konteksty Kultury.

Elly Kalfus (2017)

I am a penal abolitionist, an improviser, and a fan of jellyfish. I grew up in the Bronx, went to the Bronx High School of Science and then Brandeis University, graduating with a bachelor of arts in English in 2013. Since then I have considered Massachusetts my home, where I have found amazing community and radical organizing.

I have worked to challenge the prison industrial complex for many years, investigating cases of wrongful conviction with the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism and the Committee for Public Counsel Services' Innocence Program, and evaluating states' indigent defense systems with the Sixth Amendment Center.

I seek to end reliance on the carceral state by calling attention to the widespread harm it causes all of us and the specific harm it causes imprisoned people and the communities they are stolen from. I want to create storytelling projects in collaboration with people directly affected by the carceral state, and wish to situate my work within the context of oral history and narrative storytelling for social change.  Most recently I have been exploring Massachusetts' history of taking voting rights away from incarcerated people, and the creative resistance incarcerated people have mounted in opposition. I am inspired by the risk-taking, intelligence and organizing of incarcerated people across the world.

Jeffrey Brodsky (2008)

For his thesis, Jeffrey Brodsky conducted more than 60 hours of oral history interviews, in which politicians recount their first political races. Read transcripts and watch video clips in the Washington Post. You can also listen to NPR interview Mr. Brodsky about the project.

Continuing his thesis research on the international front, Mr. Brodsky has interviewed a dozen world leaders about their formative political experiences and campaign memories. Among those Brodsky has interviewed include Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, Prime Minister of Spain Jose Maria Aznar, President Alejandro Toledo of Peru, Prime Minister Wim Kok of the Netherlands, President Mary Robinson of Ireland, President Jorge Sampaio of Portugal, Prime Minister of Norway Kjell Bondevik, Prime Minister of New Zealand Jenny Shipley, President of Panama Martin Torrijos, President of Colombia Andres Pastrana, and Gerry Adams of Northern Ireland.

In 2012, Chief Executive magazine commissioned Brodsky to interview chief executive officers on the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). These CEOs included James Turley of Ernst & Young, Alan Mulally of Ford Motor Company, David Novak of Yum Brands, and former Chrysler and Home Depot CEO Robert Nardelli.

As an oral historian, Brodsky has conducted a series of extensive interviews with Pulitzer Prize winner Peter Kann, the former publisher of The Wall Street Journal and CEO of Dow Jones. He has also recorded oral histories with television news veterans Sam Donaldson of ABC and Bob Schieffer of CBS.

Prior to studying at Columbia, Mr. Brodsky received a BA in Political Science from Washington University in St. Louis.

Elyse Blennerhassett (2016)

Elyse Blennerhassett is a freelance audio (radio + podcast) and film producer and sound artist for interactive media and immersive exhibitions. Her work (solo and collaborative) have been published with The BBC World Service + Sundance, The Marshall Project, Brooklyn Deep, The Atlantic, NPR, and The Invisible Institute. She has worked on films and exhibitions that have been been featured at festivals and galleries nationally and internationally. As a freelancer, she collaborates with podcast and multimedia producers, investigative journalists, and filmmakers. Clients include: PEN America, The New York Times R&D Lab, and various NGOs, nonprofit organizations, and academic / arts institutions. She was a UnionDocs Collaborative fellow 2018-2019.

Jonathon Fairhead (2015)

Jonathon Fairhead is a South African oral historian, living and working in Brooklyn. His research focuses on the fields of education, human rights, activism, and the arts. 

A recent graduate of the Oral History MA Program at Columbia, Jonathon's thesis maps the individual narratives of the Equal Education social movement in South Africa. Equal Education is a movement of learners, activists and policy makers that seek to undo the inequalities in state provided education created by apartheid.

Jonathon has served as an interviewer for the Atlantic Philanthropy Oral History Project, prior to which he served as Secretary to the General Education Advisory Board at the Open Society Foundations.

He holds an Ed.M in Peace Education from Teachers College Columbia University and an MFA in Creative Writing from Brooklyn College.