By Asking ‘Impossible Questions,’ A Traveler Creates Oral History

Sep 24, 2014

Corianna Moffatt poses with the niece of one of her interviewees from Cuba, NY at their family farm.
Credit Corianna Moffatt

In 2013, Corianna Moffatt quit her job and hit the road.  She was twenty-five years old and working as the Catering Manager at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

“It was with good people in Boston, a city that I loved," she says.  "But I was unhappy very unhappy, and it was time.”

In this audio documentary, she explains why she was unhappy and what motivated her to spend four months traveling around the country, meeting strangers and recording interviews with them.  She also reveals the "impossible" questions she asked to spur conversation. 

Her project, the culmination of dozens of interviews in more than 30 cities, is called The Impossible Questions Tour: An Oral History Adventure.  Her journey began in Somerville, Massachusetts, taking her down the East Coast and through the South.  The trip ended in Nashville, Tennessee.

"I decided to go on the road because stories are important,” she says.  “Everybody has a story.  Everybody has a reason that they keep going, that they do the things that they do, that they love the things that they love, whether they know it or not.”

Hearing other people’s answers to questions about love, loss and life helped Moffatt deal with tough times she was facing, and her project affirms the power of storytelling.

Enrique shared his story of working in a prison and dealing with murderers. He lives in Western New York state and is a retired correctional facility psychologist.
Credit Corianna Moffatt

In Canton, Georgia, Ann shared stories and her daugher Eryn sang a lullaby.
Credit Corianna Moffatt

Tom and his wife pose for a photo in Balsam, North Carolina during the Impossible Questions Tour. Tom shared stories of being a logger and a Vietnam veteran.
Credit Corianna Moffatt