Neighbor Interviews

3, 4, 5

Students interview and write a story about a person in their family or community. They share their stories to celebrate the unique differences in people in the community.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne 45-Minute Session

The learner will:

  • interview a person in their family or community (at least a generation older than the student) about their youth and philanthropic activities.
  • share the stories to raise awareness of the benefits of appreciating different cultures.
  • plan and carry out a service project, such as a community day to bring people of diverse backgrounds together for an event.
  • chart paper
  • materials for making a class book
Teacher Preparation 

As an alternative method to the interview, invite four speakers of diverse backgrounds to speak to the class about their personal memories of immigration and family stories. The teacher may provide some guidelines for the speakers in advance. In addition, the students may prepare some questions to ask.

  • culture: the beliefs, social customs, and traits of racial, ethnic, religious, or social groups
  • diversity: the presence of unlike elements and features in a group
  • ancestors: the family members from whom one is descended. Ancestors usually refer to distant lineage (i.e. further back than grandparents).
  • How is a diverse community like a mosaic?
  • How do you think a diverse group of people may be better and stronger than a group of people with similar backgrounds?
  • How was interviewing seniors different from what you might have expected? What did you learn?


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Write the word memories on the board. Ask the students whether they have relatives that like to tell stories from long ago. Ask them what they think about those stories that come from long ago memories. Discuss how memories make good stories of diverse cultures. An older person may tell a story about simple things like walking to school or mealtime in a different country. Because the memories are about a different life, they are interesting and we learn about our cultures.

  2. If possible, have students interview a person in their neighborhood who is one generation (at least 18 years) older than the students. This interviewee could be an older friend or family member, older community member, or another teacher.

  3. Students should ask their interviewees about their family history and national origins. Make sure they ask about the ways they like to "give back," or contribute to the common good. Supervision should be provided for all interviews between students and non-family members, or, if possible, these interviews may take place over the phone.

  4. To prepare students for their interviews, move them into groups of three and have them brainstorm interview questions.

  5. Share potential questions as a class, and write the best ones on chart paper.

  6. Stress the importance of politeness, respect, and listening. Teach them how to introduce themselves on the phone, and role-play the beginning of an interview.

  7. Have students conduct their interviews and bring their notes back to class. They write a narrative from the point of view of the person being interviewed. Use the writing process to revise and edit the stories.

  8. Bind the completed stories together with construction paper covers. Have students decorate a cover with the theme: “Who Is My Neighbor?”

Cross Curriculum 

Students may want to promote friendship and collaboration with people of diverse backgrounds by hosting a community day and featuring their stories. Encourage them to contribute ideas about how to host this community day, and figure out what help and resources they will need from their parents and teachers in order to make it happen.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.4 Give an example of how citizens act for the common good.
  2. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark E.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.
    2. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark E.4 Demonstrate the skills needed for the successful performance of the volunteer job.