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Playlist: Finding Home: Youth Voices on Immigration

Compiled By: PRX Editors

 Credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/people/ajagendorf25/">Alex</a>
Image by: Alex 
Curated Playlist

From leaving home, to translating language and culture, to encountering differences even in their own families, teen immigrants question what fitting in really means.

Below are picks chosen by the editorial staff at PRX and Generation PRX. You can find other Youth-Produced programming options on Generation PRX and using our advanced search.

A Good Hmong Daughter

From MPR News Stations | Part of the MPR News' Youth Series series | 06:10

What's propelling young, Hmong women to break with tradition and pursue their college dreams.


Traditional Hmong culture prepares daughters for marriage and motherhood. Kao Choua Vue

of St. Paul, Minnesota faced intense pressure from her parents to marry as a teenager and forego college. Now, she’s a junior year at the University of Minnesota and an aspiring filmmaker.

Vue  reports on what's  driving young Hmong women like her to pursue their college dreams. 

Leaving the Mountains

From Appalachian Media Institute | 01:36

Growing up in rural Appalachia Machlyn Blair didn't think he would have much in common with teenagers from other places. But the current immigration debate has made him realize just how central the experience of economic migration has been for him and his family. In this essay Machlyn shares his personal experiences and family history with economic migration, and talks about what making a choice to leave home really means to him.

Machlynsfamilysmall_small There are many parts of the country where illegal immigration is not a pressing issue... Places far from any U.S. border; places where the economy isn?t strong enough to attract workers. But some Americans in these places see a direct link between their experiences and the experiences of the millions of immigrants who cross the border illegally for economic reasons. Nineteen-year-old Machlyn Blair lives in rural Kentucky and finds the current immigration debate relevant to his life, and the history of his family.

Dominican Republic

From Radio Rookies | 08:10

Angely Tavares considers her parents choice to immigrate to New York city for a better life from her beloved Domincan Republic.

Angely_small Angely has family in the Dominican Republic, and she goes there every year for vacation. She adores the Dominican Republic and often wishes she lived there, instead of the Lower East Side of Manhattan. But many Dominicans, like Angely's father and grandfather, immigrate to New York for a "better life." Angely's not sure they're making the right choice.

Banking Translated

From Youth Radio | 03:34

Youth Radio’s Mayra Jimenez reports on the role of young people translating financial transactions for their immigrant parents.


Youth Radio’s Mayra Jimenez reports on the role of young people translating financial transactions for their immigrant parents.


From WAMU | 03:22

When Josue arrived in the US he was surprised to find that some of the Latino students in his school weren't as welcoming as he thought they'd be.


Yvlogo_small A report released last month by the Census Bureau reveals that Hispanics accounted for almost half of the country’s population growth over the last four years. And for the first time, that growth has more to do with children being born here than with new immigrants coming into the country. Youth Voices reporter Josue Melgar is himself a fairly recent arrival from El Salvador. He says the distinction between these first and second generation Latino immigrants is more obvious than people might think.


From Y-Press | Part of the Paris Immigrants series | 03:18

Recently, French President Nicolas Sarkozy suggested that elite schools reserve space for youth from poorer backgrounds. Most of the schools rejected this request, however, saying it would compromise their standards.


78e_ypress Immigrant and second-generation youth everywhere face many of the same obstacles in their quest for an education. Immigrants all over the world experience many struggles in trying to adapt to their new homes. While trying to create a better life for themselves, they are often faced with discrimination and education barriers.

A Communicative Divide

From Michael Spikes | 06:24

Youth Voices producer Marjorie explores the rift left between herself and her extended family when a language barrier is realized. What's a kid to do when she needs a translator to talk with her own grandmother?

Yvlogo_small According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Nearly 1-in-5 people, or 47 million U.S. residents age 5 and older, speak a language other than English at home. Youth Voices reporter Marjorie's family is from Uganda and speaks a language named Rukiga. Marjorie explored what it's like to not fluently speak her parents native language. Although she has learned some the culture of her native Uganda, what's a kid to do when she needs a translator to talk to her own grandmother?

Finding a home in language

From MPR News Stations | Part of the MPR News' Youth Series series | 06:25

A Somali teenager describes what it's like to move to America speaking no English and manage to graduate from high school.


Minnesota is home to the nation's largest population of Somali immigrants. Somalia hasn't had a functioning government since 1991, so these East African refugees have worked to make new lives in the Midwest, setting up mosques, businesses and schools and restaurants.


When 21-year-old Sadiya arrived in Minneapolis five years ago, she didn't speak a word of English. The only school she'd ever been to was a religious school called a Madrassa to learn the Koran. Life in Minnesota with its cold winters, surrounded by a language she didn't understand,  was a shock. She wondered, does it get easier? Here is her story.

Father Returns To Mexico; Should Son Follow?

From Youth Radio | 03:41

Youth Radio's Luis Sierra describes his father's decision to return to Mexico after decades in the United States because of the economic crisis.

Default-piece-image-1 Many immigrant families are facing difficult decisions as the recession hits home. For Luis Sierrra's family, it meant splitting up. His father decided the faltering U.S. economy was impetus to move back to Mexico. Now, Luis has to decide whether he should stay and finish college or take his chances finishing his education in Mexico and job-hunting there. He explains why his story is not unique among immigrants.

TRiO Fuels College Dreams

From MPR News Stations | Part of the MPR News' Youth Series series | 04:05

Profile of Tenzin Choerap, a Tibetan immigrant benefitting from a federal program that helps low income and first-generation students attend college.


When it comes to college, students of color in Minnesota face longer odds than their white peers. Less than half of students of color graduate from high school on time.  Fewer than five percent get a bachelor’s degree from a Minnesota college within ten years of their freshman year in high school.


The TRiO program is trying to improve those statistics. TRiO’s a federal program that targets low-income and first generation  students and helps them get into college. It grew out of the War on Poverty in the 1960’s. In Minnesota, about 15-thousand students now participate.


As part of Minnesota Public Radio’s youth radio series, Mara Kumagai (KOO-mah-guy) Fink of St. Olaf College, brings us the story of one TRiO student.

To My Aunt, Who Crossed the Border

From Curie Youth Radio | 02:09

Elizabeth's aunt crossed from Mexico to the U.S. and had to leave her children behind.

Border_small This youth producer illuminates the immigration debate with an intimate letter to her aunt. Elizabeth has watched her Tia Ofelia work ever since Ofelia crossed illegally from Mexico to the U.S. If Elizabeth could give anything to her Tia Ofelia, it would be this: her children, flying first class from Mexico to Chicago, into the arms of a mother they haven't seen in five years.

Peculiar Privilege and the Elegy

From Littleglobe | 07:44

Ece Ergadöz, a Turkish student at the United World College, explores her relationship with her mixed ethnic roots.

Flydime_small Ece Ergadöz, a Turkish student at the United World College in Montezuma, New Mexico, explores her relationship with her mixed Turkish ethnic roots: half Kurdish and half Laz, she finds that she has somehow escaped being subjected to the prejudice facing her ethnic minority friends from other countries.

Trading One Tongue for the Other

From outLoud Radio at Youth Radio | 03:02

A young Filipino-American's poem on growing up in many languages.

Malayacopy_small Young Filipino-American poet Malaya Timawa Dima'api lives in Oakland, CA. This poem is about his ever-shifting relationship to language, growing up.

Party Chinese People

From Curie Youth Radio | 02:48

Immigration and assimilation from a teen perspective.

Pui_small This short piece raises an honest and complex set of questions about being both a teenager and an immigrant, when fitting in on all fronts seems like the most important thing in the world. Curie Youth Radio is a writing and radio production class at Curie High School on Chicago's Southwest side. Here, students create their own stories: fresh takes on everything from snowball fights to gang wars. They see their stories as a way for teenagers in one Chicago high school to reach out to the rest of the world.

Curated Youth Radio Programs from KUOW and Generation PRX (Series)

Produced by KUOW

KUOW and PRX have teamed up to bring you hour long programs that compile the best youth radio stories from PRX and around the Web. Find programs about teens and politics, teen immigrants, public education, and teens' relations to their parents.

Most recent piece in this series:

Schooled: Teens' Stories About American Public Education

From KUOW | Part of the Curated Youth Radio Programs from KUOW and Generation PRX series | 55:59

Claudia_200_small Adults in the White House, Congress, think tanks, principals’ offices, teachers’ unions, and other Very Important Positions are fighting over how to educate kids. But what do teenagers think about the education we’re getting?

This hour, we take you back to school – public high school, to be precise.

Teenagers share our stories, in our words.

We dissect school standards that are too hard, or too easy. We get educated in an unequal public school system, and make decisions for what comes next after high school.

Stories in the program:

1. Amon "AJ" Frazier, 'Promotion In Doubt' WNYC's Radio Rookies http://www.prx.org/pieces/46796-promotion-in-doubt

Amon 'AJ' Frazier was trying to get through eighth grade when New York City's Department of Education made it harder to move up to the next grade. AJ wasn't sure he could pass, but as he found out, the new standards were more flexible than they seemed. AJ created this story for WNYC's "Radio Rookies" when he was 14 years old.

2. Libby Donovan, 'These Kids Didn't Want To Be There, And I Did' (Orig. 'I Was a Slacker in the Top Ten'), Blunt Youth Radio Project http://www.prx.org/pieces/46381-i-was-a-slacker-in-the-top-10

Many American high schools put students in 'tracks' based on academic achievement. But at South Portland High School in Maine, students of all abilities were mixed together in the classroom. Libby Donovan was not pleased. She made this story when she was 19, for the Blunt Youth Radio Project.

3. Amanda Wells, 'The Night I Met Jonathan Kozol,' KRCB Voice of Youth http://www.prx.org/pieces/18445-the-night-i-met-jonathan-kozol

Let's go on a field trip with Amanda Wells, age 17. She saw Jonathan Kozol speak at Sonoma State University in 2005. Kozol has documented and criticized "the restoration of apartheid schooling in America." Amanda asks how she — a white girl — could help end racial separation. She made this story for KRCB Voice of Youth.

4. Erika Ortiz, Paul Roldan, and Alca Usan, 'Where Were You Fifth Period?,' Curie Youth Radio http://www.prx.org/pieces/10160-where-were-you-fifth-period

Time for a quiz. Why do students cut class? Is it because: A.Their pants are wet. B. They're tired. C. They got engaged on lunch break.

Erika Ortiz, Paul Roldan, and Alca Usan get answers from students at Curie High School on the Southwest Side of Chicago. They made this story for Curie Youth Radio.

5. Sam Pearson, 'Sam Drops Out,' Youth Media Project http://www.prx.org/pieces/46483-sam-drops-out

Sam Pearson was a student at Monte Del Sol Charter School in Santa Fe, NM. He didn't want to be in high school anymore. So he dropped out. Sam made this story in 2010 when he was 17 years old, for the Youth Media Project in Santa Fe.

6. Caitlin Garing, 'Life After High School,' Alaska Teen Media Institute http://www.prx.org/pieces/4662-think-piece-on-life-after-high-school

More than a third of public high school graduates don't go to college. One anxious mother doesn't know what her son plans to do. So she hires a hard–boiled private detective to find out. Caitlin Garing was a senior in high school when she created this noir–inspired radio play for the Alaska Teen Media Institute.

7. Lena Eckert–Erdheim, 'Making It Out Of High School' Youth Noise Network http://www.prx.org/pieces/17755-making-it-out-of-high-school

Lena Eckert–Erdheim asked fellow seniors at Durham School of the Arts what they planned to do after high school. Go to college or become a hobo? Hmm, tough choice. Lena made this story for Youth Noise Network (YNN) at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. YNN is now part of SpiritHouse. (Lena went to college.)

8. Tirhas Kibrzghi, 'Students Vs. SATs' WAMU's Youth Voices http://www.prx.org/pieces/26721-students-vs-sats

Each year, the SAT test strikes fear into the hearts of about 1.5 million high school students. Colleges use SAT scores to make admissions decisions, but many high school students say the test carries too much weight. WAMU's Youth Voices reporter Tirhas Kibrzghi takes us inside a testing center near Washington, DC.

9. Claudia Villa, 'The Kids Who Got Out: My Graduation Day' KRCB Voice of Youth http://www.prx.org/pieces/11654-the-kids-who-got-out-my-graduation-day

We spend graduation day with Claudia Villa. She went to the Clean and Sober school for kids with substance abuse issues, and graduated with teen moms, probation camp kids, and the rest of Sonoma County's Alternative Ed class of 2006. Claudia made this story when she was 18 years old for KRCB Voice of Youth.