OHS and Immigrant Story collaborate to share immigrant experiences

The Oregon Historical Society (OHS) and The Immigrant Story (TIS) are proud to announce that a series of oral history interviews with local immigrants are now publicly available through the OHS Digital Collections website. The stories shared in these audio interviews cover a wide range of experiences and perspectives from around the globe. These individuals, who have nearly all found their home in Oregon, provide a glimpse at the variety of reasons that compel people to immigrate: for safety, for opportunity, for careers, for love. 

Discussions between OHS and TIS began in 2018 around finding a suitable archive for The Immigrant Story’s original oral history recordings. The Oregon Historical Society’s commitment to public access, substantial experience with oral history collections, and existing infrastructure to preserve digital recordings made OHS a natural home. These newly available recordings are among the earliest recorded by The Immigrant Story. More will be added to OHS Digital Collections over time. 

This agreement is part of a larger partnership between the two organizations that also includes public programs and a series of exhibitions in the Oregon Historical Society’s museum. The first exhibit in this three-exhibit partnership, DREAMs Deferred is currently on view in the downtown Portland museum and closes on October 11. This exhibit amplifies the voices of undocumented immigrants from Mexico and Central America who came to the United States as children or young adults and grew up navigating school, work, and social life without official papers. 

One of the recordings now live on OHS Digital Collections features a 2017 interview with Anisha Ginshing. In this interview, Ginshing discusses her early life in a camp for Bhutanese refugees in Nepal. Immigrating to Idaho with her family at age nine, she goes on to share her experience learning English as a second language in elementary school and later moving to Portland where she attended Parkrose High School. Throughout her high school career, Ginshing took multiple advance placement courses and was involved in many extracurricular activities, including soccer, dance team, and MEChA, a Latinx student leadership club. Through MEChA, she also became involved in multicultural festivals at her school, and introduced her school to traditional Nepali dances and foods. Ginshing started college at Portland Community College (PCC) on full scholarship in 2017, and plans to become a registered nurse so that one day she can join an organization like the Red Cross to help people in the aftermath of disasters. 

Another interview features a conversation with Indian immigrant Prashant Ashok Kakad. Born in Nasik, India, in 1982, Kakad’s father was an officer in India’s Air Force, but switched careers in the mid-1990s to become a police officer in Bombay. Kakad graduated from high school in Bombay in 1999, and then attended the Institute of Chemical Technology in Mumbai. He came to the United States in 2003 to attend Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, where he earned a master’s degree in polymer science in 2006 and later moved to Hillsboro, Oregon to work at Intel. In 2009, he decided to leave Intel to pursue a career in music, and in 2010, he founded Jai Ho! Dance Party and Bollywood Dreams Entertainment. 

Dick Courter

These candid conversations and the others now available on OHS Digital Collections were initially recorded so that TIS volunteer journalists could write short biographies of each person for The Immigrant Story’s website. Founded in 2017 by Sankar Raman, a Bethany resident, The Immigrant Story’s mission is to “to document, narrate, and curate the stories of immigrants in order to enhance empathy and help promote an inclusive community.” Its goal is to both advance the national dialogue and to dispel myths about new Americans through strong, thoughtful narratives. 

For more information, contact monica@theimmigrantstory.org