Topic: Culture

Current Event October 27, 2020

Talking with Ghosts: Spiritualism in America

Culture Gender Religion

The American spiritualist movement was founded on the belief that people can communicate with the dead. It began in the mid-1800s and, at its height, had millions of followers. Many early spiritualists were women, and they often used their voices to support women’s rights. In this audio story, an author describes her trip to a spiritualist community in Maine and what led her there. Listen to learn more about the history of spiritualism, and hear what happened when the author participated in a seance.

Read More

Current Event October 21, 2020

Iroquois Nationals Prepare for Top Lacrosse Competition

Culture Sports

One of the best lacrosse teams in the world was left off the invitation list to the 2022 World Games. The Iroquois Nationals are considered the third best team worldwide. The Native American members of the team come from a generations-long tradition of playing lacrosse, a sport that originated with the Haudenosaunee people. When another team heard how the Nationals were snubbed, they took decisive action. Listen to learn why the Iroquois Nationals were excluded from play and how others responded to what they saw as an injustice.

Read More

Current Event October 18, 2020

Weird News: Cardboard Car at a Drive-Through

Culture Transportation Food

Listen to hear about a family trip to McDonald’s in a cardboard car.

Vocabulary: craving, embarrassed

Read More

Current Event October 15, 2020

Native American Cultural Burning Prevents Forest Fires

Culture Human Impacts

Wildfires are burning out of control in California and other western states. Recently, officials have turned to traditional Native American practices to help combat them. For thousands of years before being removed from the land, Native people applied controlled fire to a variety of plants. The technique boosts new growth and helps clear away dead matter that could fuel uncontrolled wildfires. Listen to learn how cultural burning was suppressed in America and why officials believe that bringing it back could help reduce or prevent future blazes.

Read More

Current Event October 9, 2020

Debate: Should TikTok Be Banned in the U.S.?

Technology Culture International

A judge recently blocked President Trump’s order to ban all U.S. downloads of the video sharing app TikTok, which is currently owned by a Chinese company. Trump views the app as a national security threat, saying that the data it collects from American users may be accessible to the Chinese government. Defenders of the app say no evidence exists that the Chinese government could access American TikTok data, which is housed in the U.S. Listen to learn more about the controversy surrounding TikTok and then debate: Should TikTok be banned in the U.S.?

Read More

Current Event September 27, 2020

Weird News: Mac and Cheese Fiasco

Culture Community

Listen to hear about a mac-and-cheese accident of enormous proportions.

Vocabulary: tragedy, fiasco, damaged

Read More

Current Event September 13, 2020

Weird News: Sandwich Support Saves Diner

Culture Community

Listen to hear about how a generous customer helped support a diner during the coronavirus pandemic.

Vocabulary: anonymous, gesture

Read More

Current Event September 6, 2020

Weird News: Young Skateboarder Shreds World Record

Culture Sports

Listen to hear about a young skateboarder setting a world record for landing a 1080-degree spin on a vertical ramp.

Vocabulary: uninspired, rotation, opportunity

Read More

Current Event August 26, 2020

The Return of Drive-In Movies

Culture Entertainment

Drive-in movie theaters are having a resurgence during the pandemic. The first drive-in was created by Richard Hollingshead in the 1930s and quickly gained popularity as an easy, inexpensive place to go for a night out. At one point, the country had over 4,000 outdoor movie theaters, although as new forms of entertainment arose, drive-ins declined. Listen to learn how the inventor’s mother helped launch the idea and what people found most appealing about watching movies from their cars.

Read More

Current Event August 23, 2020

Weird News: Teens Grocery Shop for Elderly

Health Culture Community

Listen to hear about how two teenagers created a grocery shopping program for the elderly.

Vocabulary: connect, volunteer, appreciation

Read More

Current Event August 16, 2020

Weird News: Safe Hugs with Grandma

Culture Community

Listen to hear about how a shower curtain helped a man safely hug his grandma during the coronavirus pandemic.

Vocabulary: solution, transparent

Read More

Current Event August 9, 2020

Weird News: Social Distancing Shoes

Culture International Community

Listen to hear about special shoes that can help people keep a healthy social distance from others.

Vocabulary: typical, benefit

Read More

Current Event August 2, 2020

Weird News: Stuffed Animals Ride Roller Coaster

Culture Animals

Listen to hear about the adorable roller coaster riders replacing human visitors during the pandemic.

Vocabulary: hurtle, historic

Read More

Current Event July 19, 2020

Weird News: Space Chess

Technology Culture International

Listen to hear about two astronauts in space playing chess with an expert on Earth.

Vocabulary: versus, draw, anniversary

Read More

Current Event July 12, 2020

Weird News: Old Sneakers Sell for High Price

Culture Sports

Listen to hear about an old pair of sneakers that was sold for a very high price.

Vocabulary: auction, permanent

Read More

Current Event July 5, 2020

Weird News: Coronavirus Hairstyle

Culture International

Listen to hear about how a hairstyle in Kenya has become popular again due to COVID-19.

Vocabulary: era, resemble, resurgence, austere

Read More

Current Event June 12, 2020

Debate: Should Baseball Season Open During the Pandemic?

Health Culture Sports

This past spring, professional baseball shut down during the coronavirus pandemic. Now, as summer approaches, there is talk of partially reopening the season, sparking debate about the benefits and risks of resuming play. Some point to the power of baseball to console and unify the nation in times of crisis and say it is needed now more than ever. Others worry about the health risks to the players of bringing them on the field, even without spectators. Listen to hear more arguments for and against reopening baseball and then debate: Should baseball season open during the pandemic?

Read More

Current Event June 11, 2020

Bicycles Bring Freedom for Women in Pakistan

Culture International

There has been a huge increase in bicycling around the world during the pandemic. In Pakistan, women and girls are riding bicycles in larger numbers than ever before. Traditional cultural norms have resulted in frequent harassment of Pakistani women who ride bicycles. The pandemic, however, has brought changes that have opened the door for more women and girls to enjoy the excitement and freedom of traveling by bike. Listen to learn why conditions during the pandemic have made it safer for Pakistani women to ride bikes, and why the cultural change may persist even after the health crisis ends.

Read More