Great Historias Questions

Great questions for anyone

  • What was the happiest moment of your life? The saddest?
  • Who was the most important person in your life? Can you tell me about him or her?
  • Who has been the biggest influence on your life? What lessons did they teach you?
  • Who has been the kindest to you in your life?
  • What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in life?
  • What is your earliest memory?
  • Are there any words of wisdom you’d like to pass along to me?
  • What are you proudest of in your life?
  • When in life have you felt most alone?
  • How has your life been different than what you’d imagined?
  • How would you like to be remembered?
  • Do you have any regrets?
  • What does your future hold?
  • Is there anything that you’ve never told me but want to tell me now?
  • Is there something about me that you’ve always wanted to know but have never asked?

Great questions about where you have lived

  • Do you know where your family came from? If yes, what do you know about that history?
  • Do you have stories about this city or town and/or about where you live that people should hear about?

Identity

  • What do you consider yourself, Mexican American, Puerto Rican, etc.? Why is this important to you?
  • How important is Spanish to you?
  • Do you think that the lives of Latinos/as are different today than they were when your parents were growing up? In what ways have they changed?
  • Can you tell us stories about what your parents, your and your children’s experiences were like?
  • What kinds of cultural traditions do you observe in your family?
  • Can you tell us stories about those traditions? Why are they important?

Great questions for friends

  • What is your first memory of me?
  • Was there a time when you didn’t like me?
  • What makes us such good friends?
  • How would you describe me? How would you describe yourself?
  • Where will we be in 10 years? 20 years?
  • Do you think we’ll ever lose touch with each other?
  • Is there anything that you’ve always wanted to tell me but haven’t?

Great questions for parents and other elders

School, work and organizations

  • Can you tell me what your parents/grandparents/other elders said about going to school?
  • Tell me about the kind of work your parents/grandparents do/have done?
  • Are there any organizations or institutions that your family belonged to that you would like to talk about?
  • Can you talk about the range of choices your parents and/or other elders had in the past?
  • Have your parents and/or other elders told any stories about the range of choices available today?

Great questions for grandparents

  • Where did you grow up?
  • What was your childhood like?
  • Who were your favorite relatives?
  • Do you remember any of the stories they used to tell you?
  • How did you and grandma/grandpa meet?
  • What was my mom/dad like growing up?
  • Do you remember any songs that you used to sing to her/him? Can you sing them now?
  • Was she/he well-behaved?
  • What is the worst thing she/he ever did?
  • What were your parents like?
  • What were your grandparents like?
  • How would you like to be remembered?
  • Are you proud of me?

Great questions about segregation and civil rights

  • Was your family subjected to segregation? Can you tell me what that was like?
  • Do you have any stories about how segregation was for your family or you?
  • How, if at all, has the ending of segregation changed your life?
  • Do you have any stories that can help me understand any personal reaction you had to an incident of prejudice?
  • Can you talk about how your family or you participated in the Civil Rights movement?
  • How, if at all, has the Civil Rights Movement affected you personally?
  • Do you have any stories about how the Chicano or other movements affected your thinking about race?
  • Can you talk about any barriers your parents or you have faced in education, housing, health, work, entertainment, shopping or otherwise?
  • If your family has not always been able to vote, what were the circumstances that kept them from voting?
  • Do you have any stories that illustrate any barriers or challenges you, as a Latino/a currently face?
  • Do you have any stories about how things have changed for the better? Or any stories that show how things have not changed?

Raising children

  • When did you first find out that you’d be a parent? How did you feel?
  • Can you describe the moment when you saw your child for the first time?
  • How has being a parent changed you?
  • What are your dreams for your children?
  • Do you remember when your last child left home for good?
  • Do you have any favorite stories about your kids?

Great questions for parents

  • Do you remember what was going through your head when you first saw me?
  • How did you choose my name?
  • What was I like as a baby? As a young child?
  • Do you remember any of the songs you used to sing to me? Can you sing them now?
  • What were my siblings like? What were the hardest moments you had when I was growing up?
  • If you could do everything again, would you raise me differently?
  • What advice would you give me about raising my own kids?
  • What are your dreams for me?
  • How did you meet mom/dad?
  • Are you proud of me?

Growing up

  • When and where were you born?
  • Where did you grow up?
  • What was it like?
  • Who were you parents?
  • What were your parents like?
  • How was your relationship with your parents?
  • Did you get into trouble? What was the worst thing you did?
  • Do you have any siblings? What were they like growing up?
  • What did you look like?
  • How would you describe yourself as a child? Were you happy?
  • What is your best memory of childhood? Worst?
  • Did you have a nickname? How’d you get it?
  • Who were your best friends? What were they like?
  • How would you describe a perfect day when you were young?
  • What did you think your life would be like when you were older?
  • Do you have any favorite stories from your childhood?

School

  • Did you enjoy school?
  • What kind of student were you?
  • What would you do for fun?
  • How would your classmates remember you?
  • Are you still friends with anyone from that time in your life?
  • What are your best memories of grade school/high school/college/graduate school? Worst memories?
  • Was there a teacher or teachers who had a particularly strong influence of your life? Tell me about them.
  • Do you have any favorite stories from school?

Great questions about firsts

Can you finish any of these sentences?

  • I was the first Latino/a (or Mexican American, Puerto Rican, etc.) to… If yes, tell me more about it.
  • I was the first person in my family who… If yes, tell me more about it.

Love & relationships

  • Do you have a love of your life?
  • When did you first fall in love?
  • Can you tell me about your first kiss?
  • What was your first serious relationship like?
  • Do you believe in love at first sight?
  • Do you ever think about previous lovers?
  • What lessons have you learned from your relationships?

Marriage & partnerships

  • How did you meet your husband/wife?
  • How did you know he/she was “the one”?
  • How did you propose?
  • What were the best times? The most difficult times?
  • Did you ever think of getting divorced?
  • Did you ever get divorced? Can you tell me about it?
  • What advice do you have for young couples?
  • Do you have any favorite stories from your marriage or about your husband/wife?

Working

  • What do you do for a living? Tell me about how you got into your line of work.
  • Do you like your job?
  • What did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
  • What did you want to be when you grew up?
  • What lessons has your work life taught you?
  • If you could do anything now, what would you do? Why?
  • Do you plan on retiring? If so, when? How do you feel about it?
  • Do you have any favorite stories from your work life?

Religion

  • Can you tell me about your religious beliefs/spiritual beliefs? What is your religion?
  • Have you experienced any miracles?
  • What was the most profound spiritual moment of your life?
  • Do you believe in God?
  • Do you believe in the after-life? What do you think it will be like?
  • When you meet God, what do you want to say to Him or Her?

Serious illness

  • Can you tell me about your illness?
  • Do you think about dying? Are you scared?
  • How do you imagine your death?
  • Do you believe in an after-life?
  • Do you regret anything?
  • Do you look at your life differently now than before you were diagnosed?
  • Do you have any last wishes?
  • If you were to give advice to me or my children, or even children to come in our family, what would it be?
  • What have you learned from life?
  • Has this illness changed you? What have you learned?
  • How do you want to be remembered?

Family heritage

  • What is your ethnic background?
  • Where is your mom’s family from? Where is your dad’s family from?
  • Have you ever been there? What was that experience like?
  • What traditions have been passed down in your family?
  • Who were your favorite relatives?
  • Do you remember any of the stories they used to tell you?
  • What are the classic family stories? Jokes? Songs?

Great questions about military service

  • Did you fight in World War II or other conflict? Can you tell me a story that helps me understand how you felt about fighting for your country?
  • How did you feel wearing the uniform? Do you remember any times in which other people had a strong reaction to your wearing of the uniform? If yes, can you tell me about it?
  • What, if any, special challenges did you have as a Latino in the military?

War

  • Were you in the military?
  • Did you go to war? What was it like?
  • How did war change you?
  • During your service, can you recall times when you were afraid?
  • What are your strongest memories from your time in the military?
  • What lessons did you learn from this time in your life?

Suggested questions for Latino immigrants

  • What was it like living in your country of origin before you came to the United States?
  • What were the circumstances that prompted your decision o immigrate to the United States?
  • What was the trip to the United States like?
  • What were your first impressions of this country?
  • What kind of work did you engage in after arriving in the United States?
  • Do you feel that you were treated fairly as an immigrant worker?
  • What experiences come to mind?
  • How did you feel about the English language when you first came to the United States?
  • What kind of difficulties did you experience because you did not know English?
  • How would you describe your initial living arrangements?
  • How was the immigration experience for your children?
  • What do you think about the education your children received in this country?
  • How did you arrange for medical care for you and your family?
  • What aspects of life in the United States have made the best impression on you?
  • If you were discriminated against because you were a Latino immigrant, can you tell me about that experience?
  • If you were discriminated against because you spoke Spanish, can you tell me about that experience?
  • If older members of your family had any particular difficulties adjusting to life in this country, can you tell me more about that?
  • What efforts have you made to maintain your cultural traditions in this country?
  • In what ways is raising children more difficult or easier in this country than in your home country?
  • What does citizenship mean to you?
  • What kind of relationship do you maintain with friends and family members in your home country?
  • If you belong to political, social or cultural organizations in this country, what impact do they have on your life and the lives of your family members?
  • Can you talk about the greatest challenge that you have faced living in this country?
  • Can you tell me about your greatest achievement in this country?
  • What kinds of relationships do you maintain with people from other racial or ethnic groups in the United States?

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