Make The Connection

December 30, 2019 | By Cole Hatcher

Abby Bowman ’20 (left) and Morgan Barnard ’20 visit the Washington Monument during an OWU Connection-supported trip to D.C. to learn more about using oral histories to study issues of food and migration. (Photo courtesy of Morgan Barnard)

Culture and Cuisine

Ohio Wesleyan Students Visit D.C., Smithsonian to Study Oral Histories of Food and Migration

Name: Morgan Barnard ’20
Orlando, Florida
Majors: Health and Human Kinetics Exercise Science
OWU Connection Experience: The Oral Histories of Food and Migration project with research in Washington, D.C.

Five OWU students, including Barnard, traveled to D.C. in October with Christopher Fink, Ph.D., associate professor of Health and Human Kinetics, as part of his ongoing exploration of food and migration. Fink has been working on the project since 2018, and it has expanded over time to include Franklin University in Switzerland, the Umbra Institute in Italy, and Chatham University in Pittsburgh.

During their D.C. trip, the OWU students worked with the Smithsonian Institution’s oral history team to develop their expertise in oral history methods and learn more about food and migration.

In addition to Barnard, students participating in the five-day off-campus experience were Abby Bowman ’20, Lauren Sedal ’20, Emily Sheridan ’21, and Tiffany Soisson ’20. Their travel was supported by an OWU Connection small grant.

Why I Chose This Experience

“I chose to attend this OWU Connection experience because of its relevance to some classes I am taking and my interest in food studies. I am currently taking a class where we discuss oral histories around food and how meals from different cultures came to the U.S.

“In D.C., we met with several oral historians who shared with us what oral histories are all about and tips on how to conduct a good interview.

“We talked with someone who specializes in oral histories of food specifically, and she was able to give us great insight into the world of oral histories and what you can do with them.

“I am also personally interested in food and culture and how certain foods represent certain events and traditions to people depending on where you are from. By doing these oral histories, you can learn more about what different foods mean to different people and cultures.”

My Favorite Moments

“One of my favorite experiences of the trip was when we got to see a cooking demonstration and listen to Mollie Katzen (listed by The New York Times as one of the best-selling cookbook authors of all time) talk about her cookbook.

“This was really awesome to see because we got to see a live oral historian at work, asking important and relevant questions to help the audience understand why she chose certain foods to put in her cookbook based on her past life experience with food.

“Going on this trip gave me a lot more knowledge on oral histories and how to conduct them. … I will be able to conduct better interviews using the knowledge we learned about cultural sensitivity and tips on how to word questions.”

My Plans After Graduation

“After graduation I want to travel and do some volunteering in different countries and start applying to grad schools for occupational therapy.”

Why I Chose Ohio Wesleyan

“I came to OWU because of people I knew who attended several years before me who still spoke so highly of the school and the unforgettable connections and experiences they made.”