From the Caribbean to Canada, Elysia James has traversed the expanse of North America. This U.S.-based physician talks with us about the complex issues of place, cultural identity, and the feeling of belonging.
Dr. Anan Ameri says she moved to Detroit, Michigan, from the Middle East for a PhD, but it was really for love. Decades later, she can step back and proudly behold the legacy of love that she has given her adopted community. Beyond the founding of two noble institutions (Palestine Aid Society of America and Arab American National Museum), she counts as her proudest accomplishment the mentoring of countless young women who are now leaders in their own right. A native of Syria, Dr. Ameri was recently inducted into the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame.
It’s a long way from the tropical sunshine of the Dominican Republic to the snowy shores of Lake Michigan. Miguelina Quiñones has made not only a journey of miles but also a journey of emotional discovery to share her story of struggle and acceptance with us. Once an awkward immigrant child herself, she now works in a local school district that could be called the United Nations of the Midwest.
The saying goes that the eyes are the windows to one's soul. Unmistakably, there is a dancing intensity reflecting from the two shining panes of our coming featured guest. Raúl Alvarez is a high-octane communications strategist during the week. On the weekends, he trades his business suit for basketball shorts and plays some of the most fervent over-40 roundball in the city of Grand Rapids. He joins Alan to talk about empathy, personal identity and getting stuff done.
Graci Harkema is with us today because of what some people would call a miracle. Born sick and premature in rural Congo, she was left at an orphanage where she was expected to die. A visiting missionary saw the tiny baby in a back room and heard a voice telling her, "This is your daughter." Join us to hear one young woman's powerful story of survival, self-identity, and coming full circle.
What is a Japanese couple to do if their young son urges them to allow him to move to the United States to pursue his dream of becoming an astronaut? If you're the mom and dad of Yuki Takahashi, you say, "(Gulp)...yes!" Via Skype across the Pacific, the global astrophysicist discusses saving wildlife, living in Antarctica, and playing tennis on the moon.
In our everyday news cycle, there is the chance to hear lots of numbers that may ultimately mislead us. One way to make sense of those numbers is to take a closer look at the lives of the people that they represent. Enter: Inclusion Reporting. Alan talks with WGVU staff members about a meaningful project that digs behind the statistics of life at the margins.
Theresa Tran understands the fears of the immigrant voter. Her parents are Vietnamese refugees, and she circulates in the Asian Pacific Islander community, listening to stories. Feelings of uncertainty, the awkwardness of not fitting in, and even tales of intimidation. APIA Vote - Michigan is looking to change that. By getting the Asian Pacific Island American community to register and to understand the voting process. It is critical that all voices be heard, according to Tran, and she is working hard to ensure just that. Your country, your right, your vote!
"Would you do it all over again if you could choose?" an adult son asks his dying father. Jake Beniflah talks of immigration, personal sacrifice, and the stress of acculturating to a place far from home.
The needs of the Hispanic immigrant community are varied and often urgent. Services in demand run the gamut from nutrition education to job mentoring, legal counsel, language services, and domestic violence counseling. Sara Proaño speaks proudly of the rich resource that is the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan.
Being born in the former Soviet Union of Jewish ancestry did not make life easy for families like the Kabachenkos. Add to that the world's largest nuclear meltdown, and the situation is ripe for an entire family to flee their native Ukraine to seek asylum in the United States. Growing up between two cultures, young Max wasn't sure where he belonged. And then in 2001, the Twin Towers came down, and an immigrant teen was clear what he had to do: enlist in the U.S. Army and stand up for his adopted country. Max Kabachenko talks with Alan about culture, belonging, and the price of citizenship.
After moving to the U.S. from Nigeria, Nkechy Ezeh battled the relentless snows of her adopted Michigan and the seeming coldness of the American don't-just-drop-in culture. However, a far greater shock awaited her: learning that despite its wealth of knowledge about early childhood development, Americans weren't applying it to educate the children of our most marginalized families. Listen as an award-winning educator talks about equity in education and her brainchild, the Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative.
Having lived on three continents, Jack Mangala is eminently qualified to talk about the politics and practicalities of global migration. Born in the Democratic Rep. of Congo, Jack earned his PhD in Belgium before moving to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he teaches political science. He talks with Alan about the challenges and opportunities when large numbers of people pick up and go somewhere else.
Kaushik Nag knows a thing or two about global workforce development. Working for Amway Corporation, Nag leads Talent Acquisition, Employee Benefits and Global Change Management functions in the multinational arena. He is also actively involved in building regional talent strategies for West Michigan. What's one critical element of that development? After seeking out highly qualified professionals from around the world, a major challenge is how to retain them. From Calcutta, India to Grand Rapids, Michigan, this human resources leader shares his observations on creating a sense of belonging.
This week's guest can be described as a builder of bridges and breaker of barriers. With one foot planted firmly on each side of the world's longest international boundary, Gail Harrison is a dual US-Canadian citizen. And she uses that broad outlook to inform her daily work, where she is the executive director of the Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance.
Whether you're from Africa, the Middle East, or Eastern Europe, nothing says "home" more than finding the foods that give you comfort. Enter Jordanian-born Khalid Karadsheh, co-owner of Mediterranean Island grocery in southeast Grand Rapids. For two decades, Khalid has provided thousands of imported foodstuffs to his diverse and growing clientele. He talks with Alan about his love of food, pride in his Arab roots, and affection for his adopted American homeland.
Which Michigan school is the first in the state to offer a college major in translation and interpretation? It's not U of M. It's not MSU. It's plucky little Aquinas College! Prof. of French Michel Pichot tells how this is a huge employment opportunity for undergraduates in the liberal arts.
Murari Suvedi came to the United States with little money but big dreams. Along with a wife and two small sons, he brought with him the core qualities of immigrants: a desire to learn and the ability to persevere. Fast forward several decades: has the "investment" in this Nepali family "paid off"? You be the judge. Join Alan as you listen to this father and son's heart-warming story of hard work and success!