Written by Annelise Claire, Sam Browning, and Grady Pearson
The Epilogues Project presents the personal narratives of refugees who have settled in Charlotte and serves as a directory of resources for the refugee community in the area. While we expected that interviews would compose the majority of our site’s content, in its current form, the site emphasizes both equally.
The switch to remote instruction required us to rethink our goal of conducting in-person interviews. Beginning the search for contacts early in our process provided a path forward. Our interview with Luna and her mother became the focal point of the project.
Two possible audiences for our project are Charlotte-based students and professionals with an academic or activist interest in refugee resettlement and local refugees looking for organizations offering childcare and other resources. The first group is likely larger than the second, since refugee parents may be more inclined to seek information from their respective resettlement agencies. We hope our project offers multiple perspectives of refugee resettlement in Charlotte, including basic facts, a picture of the practical role organizations play in everyday life, and the personal perspective of a family’s resettlement story.
Individual Roles & Responsibilities
Annelise took charge of the project’s communications. She coordinated meetings, set up the interview, and sent many emails, and led the IRB approval process. She hosted the site on her domain, transcribed a portion of the interview, and contributed to troubleshooting display features on the site.
Sam was in charge of site design. As head designer, he led the troubleshooting process for site structure and navigation, ensuring that our content and desired menu functions worked with our theme. He and Grady shared the responsibility of recording meeting notes. He also transcribed a portion of the interview and sent promotion requests to featured organizations.
Grady was in charge of editing and social outreach. As editor, he led the process of drafting the literature review. He contributed to the meeting notes with Sam and sent promotion requests to organizations.
Project Goals & Objectives
We hoped to build a website where refugees could share their resettlement narratives to a digital audience. We also hoped that our Charlotte-based audience would learn more about the resettlement experience and how they could get involved. Our objectives included obtaining IRB approval, conducting, recording, and transcribing three interviews, and uploading them to our site in an easy-to-read manner. Another objective was to research the resettlement process using credible sources to better inform our readers. We wanted our writing to be clear, concise, and understandable on an intuitive, user-friendly site.
Project Activities & Process
The Epilogues Project began with Annelise’s project proposal, which stated our goal to create a platform for refugee resettlement narratives. First, we sought IRB approval, a process which took much longer than usual due to COVID-19. While waiting to be approved, we brainstormed project ideas by generating think pieces and conducted significant amounts of research which proved key to our project later on. Next, we evaluated several websites to generate ideas for our own site structure as we created a wireframe sketch. We finalized our strategic plan, in which we assigned roles and outlined steps necessary to reach our goals. Next, we each completed a secondary source report which Grady synthesized into our literature review. The literature review provided pertinent background information as well as some ideas about interviewing refugees and telling their stories, but we did not draw upon it much after completion. The individual sources helped us understand how to conduct our interview, but we rarely referenced the synthesized review itself.
After completing the review, our focus turned to our website, beginning with the content draft. We created our first prototype before receiving IRB approval, forcing us to design it without any interview content. Our classmates suggested we add more visuals and break up blocks of text for our second prototype. We finished our outreach and sustainability plan detailing our plans for contacting relevant sources, using social media, and maintaining the project in the future. At last, we received IRB approval, enabling us to conduct, transcribe, and integrate an interview into our site before submitting prototype two. This addition constituted most of our second prototype, as well as more images and more digestible text blocks according to peer feedback. Finally, we tested our site for accessibility and adjusted accordingly before the final project deadline.
Accomplishments & Lessons Learned
We met most of our goals and objectives, although not to the scale that we had hoped. In order to make our content easy to read, we divided text and added headings, quote blocks, and images. To make our site more intuitive and user-friendly, we created a simple drop-down menu, heightened contrast with dark text colors and a white background, found clear images and included alt text, and created buttons using CSS to ease navigability.
Due to COVID-19, IRB approval was delayed until late in the semester. We hoped to conduct three interviews, but because of the delay and never hearing back from resettlement agencies, we did not connect with any other refugees in the Charlotte area. The family preferred that we not use images or video from our interviews, so we used stock images to respect their privacy. Although the Epilogues section did not turn out quite as we had hoped, we learned to accept our limitations; given more time, resources, and normal circumstances, we would have conducted more interviews and found a more dynamic way to incorporate them into our site, perhaps with audio clips connected to our transcripts. Ideally, we would have connected with the resettlement agencies as well so they could contribute to the pages about them, connect us with refugees in the Charlotte area, and publicize our project on their sites.