Interview Questions and Guidelines
To the interviewer: This is a chance to learn as much as can about your family and to find out interesting things about their lives. We hope that you can interview your parents at least, but also your uncles, aunts, and even grandparents if they are still alive. Use this outline as a guide and try especially to find out their birth dates and birthplaces the best you can, which will help you with family history work. The other questions are to guide you generally on things to talk about, but it is OK if the conversation goes in another direction. If you think of questions to ask that are not on the list, go ahead and ask them. Anything your family says can be interesting to you and others.
Use your phone or mp3 recorder to record the whole interview and email it to your peer leader or to manager [dot] cambodia [at] byu [dot] edu. Take photos of the people and place of the interview too and record the names of those in the photos. Once you have sent to audio and the photos to the peer leader or project manager, you are done!
Thanks for participating in the project. It will bless you and your family and help others to understand Cambodia! You and your family will receive a copy of the interview after it is transcribed. If you allow BYU to publish your interview on cambodianoralhistories [at] byu [dot] edu, you will be able to access the interview at any time in the language of the interview and also in English.
After you start the recorder, before you ask any other question, state the names of the interviewer and interviewee, the place, and date of the interview (be as specific as you can).
- Introduction. Start the interview with something like the following:
A university in the USA is doing a project where we interview our family members to find out more about them. Can I ask some question about your life now and about when you were growing up? We want to record what you say to help remember the details. The university will give you a copy of the interview and you will be able to listen to it on the website later if you want. What is your mailing address and telephone? Do you have an email?
What is your full legal name? For example, the name on your government ID?
What other names are you called by? Do you have any nicknames? Did you have childhood names?
Did you learn to speak a language besides Khmer?
How well do you read and write in Khmer?
Where were you born?
In Cambodia? Which province? Which village or city?
How old are you this year?
What year were you born? Which zodiac year?
When were married? What year and date? Was it arranged by parents?
Can you tell me about the first time you met? Was there dowry?
- Family Members
How many brothers and sisters do you have? What number are you in the family?
How old are now?
Can a little bit about them?
- Family Birthdates
Do you know when your parents were born?
How old are they now? (or how old would they have been if they are no longer alive?)
Do you know what year your mother and father were born in? Which zodiac years?
What do you remember about your grandparents? Where were they born? When?
- Parent’s birthplace
Do you know where your parents were born?
In Cambodia? Which province? Which village of city?
How about your grandparents?
- What else do you know about your family?
Have they been in Cambodia for a long time? What provinces have they lived in? Have they ever lived outside of Cambodia? If so, where?
- Tell me about what life was like for you growing up?
How much schooling did you have? Elementary school, middle or high school? Other? Where was the school? Do you remember the school name?
Did you work on the farm? Or in a family business?
What other kinds of work have you done throughout your life?
How is life different today than it was when you were young?
Did you have favorite foods or games growing up? What receipts did you learn how to cook.
Any songs that you learned growing up? Has anyone in your family ever made a musical instrument?
What was your house like growing up? Did you build it or help build it? What type of materials did they use to build their home? Who taught them to build homes?
What type of skills have been passed along in your family, like basket-weaving, making palm sugar etc.
Tell me about some of the hard times in your life. How did you get through those times?
- Best Experiences
What are some of your best memories in your life? Marriage and children? When you were young what did you hope to do when you grew up?
Thank them for talking to you. Ask to take some photos and ask the following question: “Are you OK with having this interview or photos on a Brigham Young University website?”
The university will give you a copy of the interview and you will be able to listen to it on the website at any time. You can also ask questions to the project manager, Thomas Anthony (manager [dot] cambodia [at] byu [dot] edu; 096-391-8586), who is an American who knows Khmer.