Hiding from the Nazi regime, escaping across the Iron Curtain, fainting at Beatles concerts, these stories and many others were recorded by sixth graders at the West Tisbury School while interviewing Islanders who had immigrated to this country.

During the school year students conducted and recorded interviews with Islanders from 25 countries as part of teacher Marsha Curtis’s Global Childhood project. All interview subjects had spent part of or all of their childhood in another country before making the Island their home. The recorded audio has been archived at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum. In conjunction with its Local Immigrants project, the museum established a small display of the student’s interviews and their related projects.

A reception for the students was held at the museum on Tuesday.

Ms. Curtis developed the concept with former teacher Elaine Barnett. “Normally I do a project on historical landmarks in Europe but I was thinking of changing that,” Ms. Curtis said on Tuesday before the reception. “I wanted to do something that would be meaningful for the students.”

This project was inspired by Expeditionary Learning which is a field-work based education system developed by the founder of Outward Bound.

“I had kids talk to their parents about people who had spent their childhood in another country,” Ms. Curtis said. Over 30 students conducted interviews but only a handful needed help thinking of who to interview, she explained. “I think that’s really indicative of who we are here,” she said.

Linsey Lee, curator of oral history at the museum, worked with the students on how to conduct an effective interview. “The main point is listening, listening, listening,” Ms. Lee said. “Use silence as a way to encourage people to talk more. And be prepared to think on your feet, not just asking yes or no questions.”

The students listened to stories of people who followed their sweethearts to the Island and of those who came seeking safety. Sixth-grader Mya O’Neill said she experienced some shyness before speaking to Danga Gabis of Lithuania. Nervousness aside, the students understood the importance of what was shared with them.

While many of the conversations took place at the interviewee’s’ home, Ms. Curtis did get to witness one interaction. The student “was a kid who can be a class clown type of kid,” she said. During the interview, “he was so polite but I could tell he was kind of nervous, but very professional. He took his role as interviewer seriously. He had the questions there, he was prepared.”

The students reported feeling surprised that the adults were so willing to open up to them. Some interviews lasted a half hour or longer. Ms. Lee hopes that some lasting relationships were forged too.

“On the Vineyard there is such diversity and I think it’s something we should really celebrate,” she said. “The students really got a taste of that.”

The exhibition is currently on view at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum’s Edgartown campus.