99 Cent Store

07Mar17

Sometimes it takes an outsider to see things that the rest of us take for granted in our daily lives.  Tiu Wu is a graduate student from China studying sociology at The New School in New York City.  When he looked around his neighborhood in Brooklyn he noticed an unusual number of 99-cent stores.  These Chinese-owned discount shops all seemed to be selling the same merchandise and competing for the same customers.

How can they all survive, he wondered?  At first, Tiu had a hard time getting store-owners to talk.  He finally found one store where the woman behind the cash register agreed to answer his questions. She introduced him to a world full of surprises.

This story was produced as part of the Telling Immigrant Stories course at The New School.

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Ask most people to name a sport that’s popular with immigrants and they might say soccer or baseball.  

These are global sports with famous players making big money, yet all you need for a pick-up game is an empty lot, a ball, and for baseball, a stick to hit that ball with.  Now what about ice hockey?  Yes, ice hockey. Long associated with nordic countries, Russia and North America - in other words cold places - ice hockey is gaining a following among immigrants from Asia and Latin America.  

Shagana Ehamparam comes from a Sri Lankan family in Toronto, and she is very familiar with the allure of ice hockey.  She went looking for other immigrants who have embraced the sport that requires an ice rink, skates, sticks, a puck, and a lot of padding.

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The legal challenges facing communities that protect immigrants.

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Fear and dread have swept through immigrant communities following Donald Trump’s election as president.  Trump has promised to immediately deport 2 to 3-million undocumented immigrants once he takes office, and since Election Day the nation has seen a dramatic increase in hate crimes aimed at Muslims and immigrants, widely thought to be inspired by Trump’s anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric.

In response, a growing number of cities, college campuses and religious institutions have declared themselves to be sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants. Some states – notably California and New York – have said that they will resist Trump’s immigration policies.

But no one really knows what will happen when Trump takes office.  Feet in 2 Worlds invited a group of young immigrants to talk about their fears and their hopes as the new administration takes shape.

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As a witness to war and brutality in her native Bosnia, and then as a refugee, Mersiha Mesihovic found solace and a means of creative expression in dance. Despite the wounds of separation from home and family, Mersiha had all the skills to be a great dancer. But the way she moved became an obstacle. When she arrived in New York (via Sweden and Los Angeles), Mersiha found a way to harness the emotional power of her memories. Her unique approach to movement has attracted other dancers and led her to form Circuit Debris, a dance company which explores her approach to physical storytelling. Now, Mersiha is confronting the trauma of her past and her struggle for self-liberation in a solo dance piece called BosnianBorn *She is a Refugee Star*.

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In the past few years, a growing number of undocumented youth brought to the United States as kids, often called “Dreamers,” have become immigration activists. Feet In Two Worlds reporter Shiva Bayat introduces us to Esther, who in many ways embodies this immigrant experience. For one, she “came out” publicly. But what is typical about Esther’s story stops right there, and instead, she takes us to some unexpected places.


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For Filipino immigrants, the ritual of packing gift boxes, known in Tagalog as balikbayan, nurtures family relationships tested by time and distance. In this podcast, Rosalind Tordesillias explores the meaning of balikbayan and how it’s changed for Filipino immigrants today.

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In this podcast, Janie Shen and Shadi Garman delve into the challenges immigrant parents face when raising trilingual children. We'll hear from Professor Xiao-Lei Wang; Micky Wu, a Taiwanese multilingual teacher at My Mini Hands; and Kseniya Schneider, a Belarusian mother who is raising her son to speak Russian, Hebrew and English. 

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Imagine moving to America and starting a new life with your family: nice home, better schools, new friends. But just when you begin to thrive, the secret you’ve been hiding suddenly gets out, and you find yourself thrown out on the streets, alone.


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In this episode, Shiva Bayat introduces us to Belal Fadl, a man many consider one of the important voices of the revolutionary movement in Egypt. Now he’s in New York, another artist striving to make it in the one of the cultural capitals of the world. But Cairo and its preoccupations are never far behind.


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In this episode of our new podcast series, a Filipina domestic worker escapes from harsh conditions and blossoms as an activist and an artist in New York City.

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As part of Feet In Two Worlds' online magazine focusing on religion and faith in immigrant communities, we wanted to get a sense of what it’s like to report on religion for immigrant audiences for whom faith is an integral part of who they are and how they see themselves. FI2W Executive Producer John Rudolph speaks with Reem Nasr, one of the hosts of the radio show Muslim State of Mind on WBAI in New York; and Martyna Starosta, a video journalist with the Jewish Daily Forward about how they report on topics around identity and faith to communities who are dealing with these issues in a new country.

 

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A movement that was once monolithic has become fragmented, with some activists abandoning the fight for comprehensive immigration reform altogether while others focus instead on local-level relief. In this podcast Fi2W Executive Producer John Rudolph and former editor Von Diaz talk with Thanu Yakupitiyage, the Communications Coordinator for The New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) who runs a group for undocumented youth in New York. Listen to their conversation about why many undocumented youth are shifting focus, and what it could mean for the movement.

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When it comes to citizenship for today's immigrants, the ground is shifting. Many immigrants who could become citizens, don't. Others say citizenship is less important for those who are undocumented, compared to obtaining legal status that would protect them from being deported. On this podcast, FI2W Executive Producer John Rudolph talks with Julissa Gutierrez of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials, and Mark Lopez, Director of Hispanic Research at the Pew Center about immigrants' changing attitudes towards citizenship.

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In this podcast we discuss the process of skin bleaching in immigrant communities, and the reasons why people do it.

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