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This Thanksgiving, take time to listen

Margot Besnard, a junior majoring in political science, is a Hatchet opinions writer.

There’s an app that can help you make the most of your Thanksgiving break – and no, I’m not suggesting you re-download Tinder. If you’re spending time with relatives, consider downloading the StoryCorps app from NPR.

NPR is encouraging high school students across the country to sit down and record an interview with a loved one this weekend as part of The Great Thanksgiving Listen. The national assignment, explained in a press release this month, is to “bring the country together in a project of listening, connection, and generosity.”

There are a few reasons why I think it could be valuable homework for us college students to complete too.

For one, it’s a way to show that even while we’re worrying about our own futures after GW, we want to learn more about our families’ histories. Asking about a parent or grandparent’s past is a way to say, “Your story is important to me,” and a recording of that person’s voice could be a special way to remember him or her in the future.

With the StoryCorps app, you create a list of questions and read interview tips before pressing record. Afterwards, you can save the recording privately or have it archived with the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

Trying the app is a chance to connect with someone on a deeper level, and a way to prove that our smartphones aren’t always distracting us from real conversation. I’m sensitive to generalizations about college students (including ones saying we’re too sensitive), but I’ll admit that there is some truth to the stereotype that we’re self-centered and ignorant of history.

I’m planning to interview my grandmother in Portland, Maine, and until I read one of the suggested warm up questions, “Can you tell me a little bit about your childhood?” I’d never pictured that my granny was once, not a granny.

But you don’t have to be heading home for Thanksgiving to use the app or put into practice what I think StoryCorps is all about: listening, being present, and telling people how much they mean to you.

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