Oral History Project – Living Abroad; being an immigrant in London during 2015

I kept thinking how I can put my interview into some kind of context. I am still struggling with this problem; however I realized that the topic of immigration is the most prominent one.

I am going to interview a man who is working here in London as a doctor. He was born in Syria and at some point he came to Greece. Interestingly enough, he is an Orthodox Christian, as most Greeks are; essentially the topic of religion ties up perfectly with immigration in this case. And because of his faith he found himself into some kind of church’s boarding house back in Athens; my godmother works there voluntarily and that is how I came to know him. However, I do not know anything more about him.

Andreas speaks Greek fluently so I am going to interview him in Greek. Since we both are immigrants in London, which is a huge metropolitan city, it would be interesting to speak about life in London. I want to know how he copes with the fact that he cannot go back to Syria because of the ongoing war and how his nationality influences his whole life here in London. Actually I would like to know how he approaches the whole subject of this mixture of religions and conflicting identities (Syrian, Greek and British alike). I think that we will have a very interesting discussion about racism as well.

Everything will be set under the vast umbrella-term of ‘immigration’. But most importantly, my interview will be a life story of a man who is not ‘old’ –actually he just married a woman from Egypt– but has already a very interesting background and surely some rich experiences and memories.

Friendship and Fiction

I would like to do an oral history interview which explores the relationship between people’s life events, and the fiction they read. The idea began when talking with a group of my friends, where all of us are avid readers, and often enjoy reading the same books, or at least the same sort of books. Discussing books has now become one of the main things we connect about, and in discussing this, we also brought up the idea of not only having friends through books and reading, but books being sort of friends as well.

Before this is dismissed as madness, I think there might be some basis for this which I would like to investigate further. I would like to find out if people remember the books they were reading at various life events, both positive and negative, and why they decided to read them, what they remember of them, and what that book means to them today. Many of my friends who I discussed this idea with said that they had particular books, or a series of books, which they considered to be friends, as they are the ones they turn to in times of turbulence.

This idea also has some historic grounding. During the Second World War, Mass Observation did a file report and a study into what people were reading, asking not only readers, but librarians and book shop owners. What was revealed, was that at the outbreak of the war, there was a marked decrease in the popularity of non-fiction books as more people turned towards classic novels which they had read before, as a source of comfort and escapism. Although it is obviously highly unlikely and unfeasible to get someone now to recall what they read during the war, I would still like to interview an older person about their lifetime reading habits, and which books stand out to them as ones inspiring friendship.