'Still looking toward the future.' Stories by teens during the pandemic
Everything changed on March 11, 2020.
That's when Washington Gov. Jay Inslee started closing schools across the state to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Since then, teens in the Seattle area have been balancing the grief, loss, and uncertainty of 2020 with the ups and downs of being in high school. And that's what this hour of youth radio is all about.
In this special episode of the RadioActive podcast, hosts Adar Abdi and Ruby Lee showcase 13 stories produced by young people during the coronavirus pandemic. Simone St. Pierre Nelson was the show's producer.
This show features stories made by teens in RadioActive Youth Media's long-running intro and advanced producer workshops. For the first time this year, both workshops were held virtually. Everything you hear in this showcase is not only youth-produced, but also produced remotely, with each youth producer recording from home.
The stories featured in this showcase can be found at the links below.
Stories about family:
- ‘Life goes on.’ How my abuelita challenged gender roles in Mexico. Producer Luis Hernandez Vargas and his mom remember their abuelita, and what she taught them about gender, growing up, and moving on.
- At 17 my dad had to choose: leave his family to escape the war, or become a soldier. Producer Samrawite Habtemichael talks to her dad about what life was like back home in Ethiopia, and the struggles he faced in order to live his life freely.
- A poem for my mother, a Vietnam boat refugee. Producer Sarah Pham explores her mother's diaspora through poetry. Maybe plan to have some tissues on hand.
Stories about school and education:
- From software engineer to full-time homeschool mom. Some people may think that homeschooling is only for celebrities or the reclusively religious, but producer Emily Chua says her family doesn’t fall into either category. After 10 years of homeschooling, she just graduated high school.
- This Seattle high school principal says 'adults need to learn how to listen deeply to youth'. Eyva Winet is the new principal of Nova High School. Producer Lyn Strober-Cohen is one of Eyva's students, and they say Eva works to amplify youth voices in any way they can.
- ‘College is a way to survive.’ Advice from a first-gen college student. Producer Adar Abdi talks to her best friend's older sister about navigating college as a first-generation student.
- My aunt helps immigrant students get the type of education she deserved as a child. Producer Hebaq Farah's aunt Regina lost her native languages when she came to the U.S. as a child. Now, Regina builds bridges between educators and families to help immigrant children embrace their culture, at home and in school.
- My brother’s move to a new school, from South Africa to SeaTac. The start of a new school year is often met with nervous excitement. Producer Kouther Ahmed spoke to her brother about his transition from middle school to high school — and his transition from South Africa to SeaTac.
- BONUS: For students of color, Covid-19 reveals deep inequities in Seattle area schools. Producers Essey Paulos, Mimi Zekaryas, and Charlotte Engrav look at the education gap between schools in wealthy areas and those where most students come from low-income households. They talk to students across the Seattle area about their different experiences with online education during the Covid-19 school closures.
Stories about personal growth and self-discovery:
- My Federal Way teacher is a role model to students of color like me. For students of color, having a teacher with the same race or ethnicity has been shown to improve test scores and reduce the likeliness of disciplinary issues. Producer Gabe Rambayon introduces us to Jeffrey Forbes Jr., his teacher, basketball coach, and mentor at Decatur High School in Federal Way.
- ‘History isn't one story.’ What my Korean family's immigration story taught me about my biracial identity. Producer Ruby Lee is Korean and Irish. She wanted to learn more about her biracial identity and her family's history, so she sat down with her great-aunt Sue to ask about it.
- The Toastmasters youth program helped me find my voice. Have you ever felt a big lump in your throat as you got up to speak to new people? Producer Abdul Muhsin Hameed felt "the lump" every time he tried to speak, until a public speaking program changed his life.
- Growing up on opioids: How music set this Seattle teen straight. Coltrane Fisher is a 17-year-old musician. As kids, he and producer Jared Lam bonded over their similar love for music, but drifted apart at the end of middle school as Coltrane started experimenting with hard drugs.
All the stories in this showcase were created in KUOW's RadioActive Online Radio Journalism workshop for 15- to 18-year-olds and advanced producers workshop for teenagers. The showcase was edited by Kelsey Kupferer.
All audio for these stories was collected following CDC safety guidelines during Covid-19.
Support for KUOW's RadioActive comes from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center.