Amazing how quickly 6 strangers became such good friends…

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The six of us hard at work at the OHMAR conference in Maryland.

It is amazing how quickly the six of us grew to love one another.  We each had a passion for our project and our class.  At the OHMAR conference, each one of us added something to our panel discussion, and I was so proud of how well our presentation went.

Each and every week I looked forward to getting to see and talk with my friends who happened to also be my classmates. . I was genuinely touched by this entire experience and am extremely grateful to know five people this awesome.

I look forward to the future of this project and what it has in store for us!

My Experience During Hurricane Sandy

My experience during Hurricane Sandy was quite different compared to my classmates. During the storm, I did not experience any damage to my home and I was truly blessed to have the luxury of still having electricity and hot water in my home. In addition, I opened my home to my friends and family members who did not have the same opportunity as I did. Although they were unable to reach me at times due to the connection of their phones, I still was able to extend the offer and try to lend a helping hand.  The guilt and sadness I felt towards my loved ones and friends was undeniable. I was able to have my grandmother and my aunt stay with me during the storm, and I was really grateful for that. I still feel  the pain of those who were traumatized during the storm because although I was not able to experience it hands on, It is still a sad situation to this day.

Port Monmouth

This is the sign that lets drivers know that the bridge on my road is closed. This bridge was compromised by Hurricane Sandy and as a result, I have to go down and around to get to the highway on my commute to college everyday.  Nearly every day it is moved into another location because people continue to run into it, even though it has been in that position for months.

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Port Monmouth

 

This sign has now become a permanent fixture in my everyday life. I am forced to pass it, as I leave the my street. It tells drivers to go down Highway 36 in order to get to the other side of my street. The bridge was closed as a result of Hurricane Sandy and the repair work has not been started.

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The OHMAR CONFERENCE

The OHMAR Conference was such a unique experience for me. I have never presented at a conference a day in my life, and being this was my first time, I was more than delighted to present a presentation on Hurricane Sandy. The conference included different kinds of speakers of Oral History, and many interesting panels that were very exciting. The panels included people who were apart of the CIA, House of Representatives, and Students from different universities, including me and my classmates. I enjoyed the entire trip to Washington, D.C. and I wouldn’t mind experiencing it all over again.

The Beginning

When I first stepped foot into this Oral History class, I was nervous and excited at the same time. I did not know what to expect from this class, and what I was going to learn by the end of it all. As I sat down and waited for my 20-25 classmates, I was only to be surprised that there were only 6 students including myself in the classroom. After my classmates walked in, and everyone including my teacher settled down, we each introduced ourselves and everyone as well as I seemed excited. Once my professor, Dr. Perkiss introduced the project we were going to be working on, me and my classmates just looked at each other in awe. She briefly explained to us that we would be working on an Oral History project in regards to Hurricane Sandy, a devastating hurricane that occurred in New Jersey less than 10 months ago. In addition, we were also going to interview people who experienced this traumatic event first hand. As we began the project, I knew it would end up turning out to become something magical and historical.

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OHMAR

For the culmination of the semester our class spoke at a panel for a joint conference by OHMAR, or the Oral History Association of the Mid Atlantic Region, and the Society of History and the Federal Government. The conference included panels with historians from the FBI, CIA, House of Representatives, the Senate and numerous historians from museums  and universities.

The conference was an amazing experience.  It was enlightening to listen and talk to experts in the field. My favorite was one led by a former FBI Agent, who now works as an oral historian for the FBI. He spoke about the process and importance of oral history. My favorite part was the stories he told. All the panels were great. Our panel went great as well. It was so rewarding to present our work to experts in the field.

My Gas Station

The Lukoil gas station on Rt. 22 has been shutdown since Hurricane Sandy and it finally opened last week. I currently work as a server at Fridays in Springfield, and after every shift I do the same routine. I get smokes, gum, and gas every time. This was the same place that I went for gas and tobacco back when I first got my license. This gas station was technically my first gas station.

I know it is stupid to hold sentimental value to a gas station, but Hurricane took that away from me. Every thing around it was open on Rt.22 but the gas station. It has irked me for many months, so when it finally opened back up I felt like I was finally liberated from the storm.

The Trip

The most interesting trip I have had in months was from April 4th -5th. Why you ask? My class and I presented our oral history project on Hurricane Sandy at the National Archive in Collage Park,MD. It was an incredible experience because we were six complete strangers that banded together on our very first oral history project.

I admit on the first day of the conferences, I was a little intimidated. The other oral history projects that presented themselves seemed so organized and almost aggressive. It was almost as if they have all done this before, and we were the rookies. As I paid more attention to all the presenters they were more nervous than I thought.

So after the very first day of the conferences (the 4th), my classmates, my professor, and I were invited to a country club with finger food, beer, and wine and then we had dinner at the restaurant next door at the expense of Kean University. We were also joined by my beautiful fiancé, who lives in DC.

Our presentation was on the 5th around the mid-afternoon, which was not the highest point of tension. That was the night before when Dr. Perkiss basically went through a Denzel Washington-like transition. She was the Remember the Titans Denzel who was stern but caring throughout the whole semester, but when she realized how ill-prepared we were as a group she let us have it like Training Day Denzel. After practicing my part all night at Amanda’s apartment and Dr. Perkiss’ inspirational pep talk before we went to bed was the prelude to our successful presentation. This was a great trip and I hope everybody involved had a great time too.

Between Two Dents

Everyday I’m reminded of Hurricane Sandy. Every time I leave my driveway i step on to a combination of three feet of pavement and lawn that serves as a split second  mind trip for my Sandy experience. My experience was about 9 days in the dark while I was in New Jersey, and about 2 days in Washington D.C. where my fiance lives when the power first went out. I enjoyed the time spent with my dear Amanda because all my worries in New Jersey were put on hold and we actually had time to spend wit each other. We have been in a relationship for over four years, and have been doing long distance for two years for our educational pursuits. We see each other any chance we get. Unfortunately, I had to return back to Jersey due to the fact that my job in Linden, NJ was one of the few cities in my area that had there power returned immediately. So, I had to spend a lot of time in a dark, empty house, while my parents and siblings were at a nearby uncle’s house in the area with power. My experience was bitter/sweet, but definitely more bitter than sweet.

My nostalgic barriers are the two dents that I walk between everyday, which is the dent on my car:

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And the dent on my neighbor’s lawn:

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These two dents were the cause of large branches coming down during the storm from the same neighbor’s huge tree on the front lawn. The same branches dented my father’s car and shattered my sister’s car windshield.They have repaired their cars,and my neighbor has filled in the dent left on his lawn, but I have not had the time to repair my car. Until I do, I will be sent be back to my distant memory of Sandy everytime I walk in between those two dents.