Constitution Daily

Smart conversation from the National Constitution Center

"At the Table" students learn the art of asking questions

November 25, 2011 by Sayeh Hormozi


Editor’s Note: At the Table is an international exchange program that connects high school students in Philadelphia and Riga. The program, undertaken by the National Constitution Center in collaboration with the National History Museum of Latvia, will culminate in two service projects and a collaborative documentary film about civic engagement. In this post a participating student describes her experience participating in media training workshops with media partner WHYY.

When we think about interviews, the professionals come to mind: Oprah, Bob Kostas, Piers Morgan. They get the big names, and ask the tough questions. But we are all interviewers in our own right. Every time we meet someone new, we ask them a series of questions, in an effort to know a little bit more about who they are. What do they do for a living? Where are they from?

Latvian flag (via Wikimedia Commons)

It’s a fine balance, the art of asking questions. You want to seem interested in someone, without being too pushy or prying. Last week, with the help of local PBS affiliate WHYY, the students from the At the Table project practiced their interviewing skills on a few unsuspecting visitors to The National Constitution Center. “We all were excited about interviewing people and hearing their responses while recording them on camera,” said Wells Brown. “Once we started approaching people, we felt a bit nervous and apprehensive, but once we kept interviewing different people it became much easier for us, and even fun,” she continued.

Students asked questions like: What do you enjoy most about visiting Philadelphia? And if they encountered locals, they asked: What are some things you would change about Philadelphia?

“Mostly everyone had something positive to say about our city which we really liked,” Wells said. “We really enjoyed ourselves and it was a great learning experience. Although, we do have more practicing to do, but we’re getting there!” And we know they will. Keep tuning in weekly to follow the students’ progress as they continue learning and preparing for their big trip to Latvia!

Wells Brown is is a student participant in At the Table and a junior at Constitution High School. Sayeh Hormozi, the National Constitution Center's Senior Manager of International & Civic Engagement, directs the project.

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