Growing up in southwest Grand Rapids, young Israel Ledesma knew both good times and bad. Using his personal experiences from the hard times – including brushes with the law – this local Latino leader fashioned his own view on kids, community, and the importance of mentoring.
Young Saleem Usmani's life was forever changed when his Olympian dad invited him along to Los Angeles in 1984. For the curious youngster from India, it wasn't much of a leap from saying, "Yes, I'll join you there" to "Sure, I could go to college here." With that spirit of adventure, Usmani found friendship, love, work, and belonging in his adopted country...in the unlikeliest of places!
From jobs in hospitality to car sales to organizational leadership, Carlos Sanchez has shown a bent for business. He joins us to tell of his own professional trajectory, including falling in love with an American along the way. Today, he uses his passion for talent development to share his vision for creating Latinx opportunities in his adopted West Michigan home.
From his very roots, Justo Gonzalez II was destined to be an advocate for moral justice. From his devoutly Roman Catholic mother to his community leader father, Justo grew into the mantle of his Spanish name, which means “Justice.” Learn how a Puerto Rican boy from Buffalo, NY, came to be an ordained voice of conscience for the marginalized of the United States.
Frank Wu joins us to discuss growing up Asian American in very-white suburban Detroit. He shares the chilling impact of the 1982 Detroit murder of Vincent Chin on the Asian-American community. Finally, he calls for strengthened coalition building across the diverse Asian populations of the U.S.
TJ Rogers joins us to talk about Freedom House Detroit and the everyday challenges facing asylum seekers in the United States.
In his native Congo, Kyezie Bwanangela found himself running for his life ahead of armed militias. Luckily, the young man found safety and eventual refugee status in the United States. The criminal justice major joins us to talk about corruption, leadership, and what is needed to regain democracy.
Amer Ahmed grew up in the United States in the awkward brown immigrant space between black and white. Hear how one Muslim boy's diverse upbringing influenced a career of bridging differences and teaching others to work more inclusively.
At its best, America is a place of welcome for the oppressed and homeless of the world. A great example of this welcome is the vocational English program for Bhutanese refugees in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Krishna Bista, a Bhutanese volunteer educator, joins Minnie Morey, President of the West Michigan Asian American Association, to share the details.
Mexican-born Alynn Guerra talks about finding her passion and her message through the art of printmaking.
Herself the child of itinerant parents, Olivia Sprinkel finds herself transplanted across the Atlantic to New York City. There she guides Fortune 500 companies in achieving big visions for sustainability. Join us for a conversation on expat life, innovation, and charting one's North Star.
Lucia Rios was born with spina bifida but also with a family who urged her to try to do anything she wanted to. That included trying roller-skating on crutches and attending university in an era when the U.S. was still working to become handicap-accessible. She joins colleague Stacey Trowbridge to talk about stigmas, accommodation, and common-sense tips around disability.
Marcel "Fable" Price talks of his challenging youth, a teacher who saw promise in him, and the redemptive power of poetry. As Poet Laureate of Grand Rapids, Michigan, he uses his platform to empower area youth, call out public policies that marginalize brown and black people, and advocate for mental health services.
Back in Mexico, Mercedes Lopez-Duran got important advice when she started as a restaurant dishwasher: You are the one responsible for your own career trajectory. Taking that guidance to heart, she worked her way up to cook and moved with daughter Paola to the United States. When a Mexican restaurant came up for sale, the intrepid duo took a deep breath, leapt into the void, and never looked back. Today, El Granjero Mexican Grill celebrates 10 years of good cooking in the Bridge Street neighborhood of Grand Rapids, Michigan. In the process, they created a place for locals to feel like they belong.
From Grand Rapids to Sundance. A young man finds his passion in digital storymaking. In the process, Shane McSauby discovers his Native American roots and a drive to empower others.
Just looking at his name, one can tell that Marcelo Lehninger was destined to be a citizen of the world. The child of a Brazilian violinist and German pianist, young Marcelo grew up with two constants in his life: global fluidity and music. Today, he unites his passions on a third continent as music director for the Grand Rapids Symphony. Join us for an uplifting conversation about life, love, and music!
Reyna Orellana Masko shares some of the unspeakable horrors of life, violence, and death in her native El Salvador. A U.S. citizen today, she calls for the national administration to reinstate Temporary Protection Status (TPS) for the 200,000 Salvadorans at risk of being sent back to a land of estrangement and danger. Relatedly, she calls for Ottawa County residents to create a more welcoming community that is able to attract and retain diverse workers who are the global doers of tomorrow. [Parental Warning: May not be suitable for younger children.]
How do we change the notion that certain sports are just for white athletes or male participants? By mentoring females and youth of color in those sports. PGA professional Andre Pillow talks about his work with The First Tee of West Michigan and creating access to golf for all young people.
In Newcomer-USA conversations, one line frequently comes up: "We're all immigrants, really." While FLYB is committed to telling immigrant stories, we acknowledge an important pre-immigration narrative that is too often missing. That is, the story of the indigenous peoples living on the continent for millennia before Europeans arrived. We are proud to bring Native American author/activist Jacqueline Keeler to the table to share important stories absent from our U.S. history books. Part 1. Part 2.
Amanda is a Spanish teacher from West Michigan. Guillermo is a businessman from Campeche, Mexico. They met and fell in love in...Spain, of course! They join us to talk about intercontinental romance and life in a bilingual, bicultural world.