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.
Javier Olvera is the president and owner of Supermercado Mexico in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He joins us to tell his own immigrant story, talk about the joys and challenges of business ownership, and share his vision for Hispanic entrepreneurship in his adopted city.
Call it serendipity. Call it kismet. Any way you frame it, Attila Mosolygó will tell you there are forces in the universe more powerful than the decisions one makes alone. His career in ballet? Blame it on his six-year-old sister! His residency and ultimate U.S. citizenship? Credit his parents' decision to take a "little vacation" across the Atlantic! Join us as we hear the story of a boy from Hungary who finds life fulfillment an ocean away from home.
Brazilian Paulo Saiani talks about life in the United States from the viewpoint of an expatriate. He shares with Alan the struggles and joys of working on a temporary assignment for the Dow Chemical Co. in the U.S. Midwest.
Susan Im rejoins Alan in the studio, this time to talk about growing up second-generation Korean American in rural Michigan. She shares her newfound awareness of race, racism, and her own ethnic identity, which solidifies after the bludgeoning murder of Vincent Chin, a Chinese American mistaken for Japanese by unemployed auto workers in the 1970s.
Our conversation with Richard Blanco continues. Blanco is the first Latino, first immigrant, and first openly gay poet to read an original work in front of hundreds of thousands at a presidential inauguration. He shares with Alan his thoughts about ethnicity, place, and belonging. He humbly includes what he is grateful for.
Richard Blanco is only the fifth poet in U.S. history to be selected Inaugural Poet to the President. He shares with Alan his thoughts on the event and reads a poem he'd written for the Inaugural Committee which was not selected for the occasion. With the pithy understanding of someone anchored in two cultures, he observes that immigrants may be more patriotic than natives.