As a teenage immigrant, Ace Marasigan wanted no part of the United States. His older brothers were back in his native Philippines, as was the security of home, culture, and language. Yet he persisted, with the help of the local Filipino community. He formed a rock band and focused on making Grand Rapids his new home. Fast forward to today: Ace is the downtown manager of Old National Bank, where he has the time to look out onto his city and dream of a second successful Downtown Asian Festival. Just the kind of belonging he wants to create for his son.
Attorney Raquel Salas understands the ins and outs of immigration and cultural adaptation, having moved to the U.S. over a decade ago from her native Dominican Republic. She uses that lived experience as a newcomer along with her native Spanish language skills to counsel immigrants in the intricacies of American criminal law. She joins us to talk about culture, belonging, and the myths that surround the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, DACA for short.
Abe Carrillo is a proud son of Mexican immigrants and proud employee at Herman Miller where he is Director for Diversity & Global Inclusiveness. He joins us to talk about the hard work of immigrants and the inspiring community work that Herman Miller is engaged in.
Singer-songwriter Myra Maimoh is as comfortable on stage with a microphone as she is with a warm cup around the coffee table. The Cameroonian-born mother of three laughs easily and genuinely while recounting her youth in Central Africa, singing in church and in girl bands. She takes the stage in our studio to share an original composition from her recent album and shares how this formerly cold city of Grand Rapids is rapidly becoming home. Come for the music; stay for the conversation!
Do you play the lottery? Does the money really go to charitable causes? How many billions are at stake, and do various state and national lotteries pay their fair share of taxes? Journalism professor Jeff Kelly Lowenstein talks about investigative reporting and the global lottery industry.
As a boy, young Alfred Lessing was like most other children in his native Netherlands. He played with friends and loved his family. But there was one difference: he was Jewish. So when the Nazis overran his country in 1940, his mother sprang into action. Her one goal: save the family from extermination. In this three-part interview, Dutch immigrant Fred Lessing talks of love, hiding, and what we can learn from human atrocities. Interview: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.
DACA recipient Kevin Vazquez talks about what it means to live in the shadows of the United States, his adopted homeland. As the Trump administration moves toward deporting 800,000 Dreamers, fears grow in the immigrant community. One young man's personal story.
Pakistani-born Simin Beg is a mom and wife, a physician, and a practicing Muslim. She offers her insights on straddling cultures, palliative medicine, and everyday faith.
A 13-year-old Serbian boy and his mother flee worn-torn Bosnia. Young refugee Mlado Ivanović spends his teen years trying to adapt to Austrian culture and the German language. Beginning his PhD studies in the U.S., he connects his passion and his life's work: teaching American students about the worldwide refugee crisis and what they can do about it.
Refugees often find themselves warehoused in makeshift camps for years – or even decades. The lucky ones are eventually resettled by a generous nation to start a new life. But new struggles – especially for older refugees – then begin: trying to learn a strange language, adapting to new climates and customs. Who is the best to help with the daily tasks that natives take for granted: driver's license, bank forms, job applications, healthcare appointments, school registration for kids? It's often fellow refugees who came before. Like Leela Dhakal.
When Christine Mwangi's family won the U.S. visa lottery, they thought they were the lucky ones. Turns out the United States hit the jackpot when young Christine landed on its shores to become a role model for us all. The young pharmacist shares her story of inspiration and meeting the needs of women across the nation and the world.
An Aussie/Kiwi couple moves from Down Under to Up Over. Pamela and Craig Benjamin discuss their personal mid-life moves. Changing hemispheres and changing careers in the land of opportunity.
It was not an easy decision for Huynh Tran to put down his architect's dream in order to remold himself as a healer. The young Vietnamese refugee worked long hours to put himself, first, through architecture training, then, through medical training. Committed to giving back to the community that embraced him, Dr. Tran formed a medical philanthropy that ministers to underserved community and trains overseas physicians to improve their caregiving skills.
As a young kid, Adam Khafif was already developing a sense for business, working in his off-school hours for the family's cookie business. In high school, he launched a streetwear company, completing his first sale – to his aunt! With the dauntless spirit of an entrepreneur, Adam sharpened his focus, majoring in business at Babson College and cementing his vision for his LSNP clothing line. Today, he sells hip clothing, all the while incorporating his core values that set LisnUp apart in a very competitive industry.
Lola Audu is used to creating firsts in her adopted U.S. home. As an international student in college, she had to teach white administrators about unintended racism. As a real estate professional, she became the first black president in the 117-year history of the Grand Rapids Association of Realtors. As a graduate of the Cultural Intelligence Center, she is now bringing cultural intelligence (CQ) to the real estate industry. Join Alan as he interviews the Nigerian native who has become a West Michigan force to be reckoned with.
David Castro understands hard work. Arriving in the United States, the Mexican native spoke little English but knew he had to work. Luckily, the manager of the Sears men's department was kind and gave him a job stocking clothing. And helped him learn English. Moving from retail to the catering business, David maintained that same work ethic, moving from Server to Supervisor to Manager. Today, he is the President and Partner of Applause Catering, the largest catering company in Grand Rapids, MI.
Sarah Wamujje Dieleman has two things nobody else has: 62 siblings and an elementary school in her hometown in Uganda. Our polyglot guest shares with us her personal roots and the notion of grassroots empowerment for children in her native East Africa.
After a quarter century in the United States, sociology professor Yan Yu shares her secrets about culture, education, friendship, and belonging.
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.