Feet in 2 Worlds has partnered with public radio station WDET to award fellowships to four journalists covering food, immigrant culture and communities of color in Metro Detroit. Their first audio postcards are sound-rich snapshots of people and places in the Motor City's diverse food landscape.

For many of us food is the most evocative way to recall different times and places. For almost 20 years the only way Yewande Komolafe could connect with her homeland of Nigeria was through food. Food shaped Yewande's profession, and it also gave her a unique perspective on the experiences of other immigrants in the U.S.

For decades New York’s Pearl River Mart was the place to go for Chinese goods. Pearl River wasn’t just a department store, it was a cultural landmark. Then in 2016, after 40 years in business, the store closed. But its faithful customers and its founders weren't ready to let go. Michelle Chen tells the story of her family’s store: from its origins at the cusp of the Cold War, through economic ups and downs, to how Pearl River revived itself in the new millennium for the next generation of consumers.

Yara and her family were forced to flee Syria and gained asylum in the US though they never had dreams of living in America.  They long for the life they loved in Damascus, but they must make a home in this new place.  That's hard enough without the constant reminders that they're not fully welcome here.

People immigrate for different reasons -- economic insecurity, political instability, or the simple desire to see another part of the world.  But when they leave their home country, they're usually leaving someone behind.  Most immigrants know the challenge of keeping connections with their families. Some may be separated from their loved ones for years, straining those relationships. Nathan Yardy tells us how one family's ruptured bonds spanned generations, and what it took for those wounds to heal.  

More than a million New Yorkers carry a municipal ID, issued by the city. The ID NYC program was launched in January 2015 to help undocumented immigrants and others unable to obtain other forms of government identification. City officials point to the program as an important aspect of New York’s sanctuary policies for immigrants without legal papers.  But the strident anti-immigrant policies of the Trump administration are creating new challenges for the municipal ID. Rosalind Tordesillas has the story.

“When I first took [the hijab] off, I felt it was such an elaborate performance, but after two or three months, I’m so quick with it, I’m like a little ninja, you’ll be shocked how fast I do it, I remember a woman looked at me and was like ‘did I just see this girl?'”

Reporter Tahini Rahman produced our story about how a young Muslim woman struggles to reconcile being the person she wants to be and the woman her parents want her to be.

India Home


When Americans talk about what they admire most about immigrants - and yes, many Americans do admire immigrants - one thing they point to is how elderly people are supported in cultures from other parts of the world.  


India Home is a group of community centers throughout the borough of Queens set up to support South Asian seniors.  Alex Wynn and Sruti Penumetsa are graduate students at The New School in New York.  They visited India Home and found that the centers create a sense of community among a very diverse group of senior citizens.

99 Cent Store


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.

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.

The legal challenges facing communities that protect immigrants.

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.

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*.

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.

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.

Feet In Two Worlds




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