Belonging is a powerful emotion. Attached to it are feelings of identity, purpose, harmony, and connectedness. How we respond to the newcomers in our nation defines us as a country, and Feel Like You Belong exists to share those stories.
With both pride and humility, our show launches its 100th episode this month. It has been a remarkable journey, and I would like to thank all the people who made this possible.
At the top of the list is my partner in life and this endeavor, Kim Roberts. It was her brainstorm in January 2013 that birthed the vision: sharing powerful immigrant stories across the United States and into the world. I am forever grateful for her love, wisdom, and encouragement.
My next shout-out goes to Anjalika Lobo, John Chen, and Jeremy Knickerbocker, our first team of intrepid interns. They were at the ground floor, designing the FLYB color scheme and set, creating motion graphics, and assembling it all in our Allendale pole barn. (Notably, all three have immigrant parents!)
Our first producer, Deb Havens, came on board to bring discipline to our disorganization. She got us out of the pole barn by introducing us to WKTV studios in Wyoming, Michigan.
At WKTV, we were embraced by General Manager Tom Norton, who made many accommodations for our ambitious--if sometimes naïve--undertaking. Programming Coordinator Kelly Taylor worked with us week in and week out and made us feel welcome. Kind training and set-up assistance came from the staff techno-wizards, Gene Gregory, Nate Diedrich, Bill Jung, and Davin Harsila.
Our theme music was composed by Dennis Dembeck, a former GVSU student who now wields his audio creativity in New York City.
Appreciation goes to all subsequent interns who worked on the show, developing their skills and raising the bar for later crew members who followed in their pioneering footprints. You can see all their faces and bios on our crew page.
My final note of gratitude goes to our past guests. One hundred times we heard the stories of immigrants, immigrant children, and immigrant advocates. We learned from refugees and expatriates, each sharing important pieces to the puzzle of being a fish out of water and seeking integration and belonging. [Above photo: poet Richard Blanco, below: catcher Brayan Peña]
Bing Goei premiered our very first episode with his family's moving story of systemic discrimination in West Michigan and their gratitude for the generosity of others. in 2014, Bing was tapped by the Governor to serve as the Director of Michigan's Office for New Americans.
Our 100th episode features Michigan Women's Hall of Fame inductee, Anan Ameri. Founder of the Palestinian Aid Society of America and the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, Dr. Ameri counts as her proudest achievement the mentoring of scores of young women who have grown up to become leaders in their own communities.
These are America's stories. The stories of toil and triumph. We thank all of our devoted viewers for their feedback and ongoing support of the mission of bringing newcomers into the American fold. We are stronger in our diversity and generosity. See you in the new year with more powerful stories!
Warmest regards, Alan