Current Event June 20, 2018
The Hawaiian volcano Kilauea recently erupted, destroying dozens of homes and putting many more at risk. Despite the constant danger of eruption, Hawaiian residents feel passionately about where they’ve chosen to live. Even while anxiously waiting in evacuation centers or being forced to start all over again after their houses are destroyed, many Hawaiian homeowners wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. They’re willing to accept the dangers of natural disasters like these in order to enjoy everything Hawaii has to offer. Listen to learn more about what makes living near a volcano worth it.
Current Event June 15, 2018
A new Sacramento law makes what the city calls “aggressive panhandling” illegal. It forbids people from begging for food or money within 30 feet of a bank or ATM or outside of restaurants. Those caught breaking this law more than three times face fines and jail time. One homeless man is suing the city because he believes this rule violates his right to free speech. The city argues that it is only trying to prevent the most forceful panhandling and plans to defend the rule. Listen to this story about Sacramento’s new law and then debate: Should panhandling be illegal?
Current Event June 14, 2018
Illegal immigration from Mexico and Central America to the United States is currently a major political issue. Politicians and citizens have strong opinions on both sides. In order to help people better understand what it’s like to attempt crossing the border, a Mexican film director created a virtual reality exhibit that allows users to experience it for themselves. Based on the true stories of immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally, the director hopes this exhibit will foster more compassion and empathy. Listen to learn more about this project and its aims.
Current Event June 12, 2018
Everyone makes mistakes they need to apologize for in order to repair their relationships. Public figures like politicians and celebrities also have to say sorry publicly for inappropriate behavior, as we have seen more often recently. However, not all apologies are created equal. A few key elements make some much more successful than others. An expert in dispute resolution explains what makes for an effective apology in the digital age. He also discusses how cultural differences and other circumstances affect the way you should ask for forgiveness. Listen to learn how to tell a good apology from a bad apology.
Current Event April 24, 2018
Refugees arriving in the United States typically get 3 months of government funded support. It’s often not enough time to adjust and learn everything from navigating the medical system to finding transportation and a job. One teacher in Virginia started a non-profit to connect refugees with people in the community to help them adjust to a new country and culture. Listen to hear more about this program.
Current Event April 17, 2018
A group of Dallas teens are learning history on their spring break. They are taking a civil rights tour from Dallas to Brownsville, Texas and places in-between to learn more about Mexican-American history. Students are watching traditional Aztec dances, learning about community responsibility, and hearing from Mexican-American activists. Listen to hear more about this program and how it’s inspiring students to learn about and be proud of their history.
Current Event March 13, 2018
One University professor is combining scholarship with an exploration of the Latino culture using the rich history of tacos. He uses food to connect his students to Mexican people and their narratives. Students travel to a taqueria to explore the food of Mexico, discussing history and culture to create understanding along with identifying misconceptions. Listen to hear this professor discuss questions of cultural appropriation and relationships to power as he teaches his students about Mexican culture using food.
Current Event February 2, 2018
Cell phones have become a significant distraction for students and teachers in classrooms across the country. Administrators are trying a variety of ways to limit the use of cell phones. Some teachers take it upon themselves to take away students’ phones in their classrooms. Other schools have invested in soft pouches that lock up the phones during the school day. Listen to learn how students are reacting to these changes and then debate: Should schools hold student cell phones?
Current Event January 29, 2018
The Chinese New Year, also known as the Lunar New Year, is considered a major holiday in China and celebrated by many other Asian countries. In the U.S., Asian immigrants celebrate by giving gifts of cash in red envelopes to family and friends. The amount of money given in these red envelopes can vary. Asian Americans and immigrants who didn’t grow up in this tradition worry over how much money to give. Listen to learn about this popular tradition and how it is similar to other holidays.
Current Event January 18, 2018
In the many Central and South American traditions, the quinceañera is a celebration of a 15-year old girl’s birthday. It recognizes her journey from childhood to maturity. A new TV documentary series highlights young women celebrating their quinceañeras, and how important this tradition is to the family and heritage. The stories also relate to their life in America right now. Listen to learn about one girl's preparation for her quinceañera.
Current Event December 22, 2017
Many boys and girls have wondered how Santa Claus delivers toys to every child in one night. This story takes a scientific approach to answering that question. Scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson explains how Santa avoids burning up in the atmosphere when going at the speed of light, and how the reindeer might be more technically equipped than we think. Listen to learn about the military program that has been tracking Santa for years and information about Santa that you might not know.
Current Event December 21, 2017
The holiday known as Kwanzaa celebrates African heritage and culture and is observed for seven days, ending on January 1. The holiday includes lights, a feast, and gift-giving, and surrounds the holidays of Christmas and Hanukkah. Kwanzaa was created within the last century and has gone through changes in who celebrates it and how it is observed. Now, more religions are celebrating the holiday than initially intended. Listen to learn about how Kwanzaa began and how it has changed.
Current Event November 22, 2017
A turkey at the Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary in Maryland is not worried about becoming Thanksgiving dinner. Instead this turkey will be the guest of honor at dinner. Every year hundreds of people who eat only vegan or vegetarian food gather to eat with the turkeys, pigs, sheep, and other farm animals at Thanksgiving time. And they let the animals eat first. With help from charitable donations, this sanctuary has over 200 animals and a full-time caretaker. Listen to hear more about this unusual feast at Thanksgiving.
Current Event November 8, 2017
Many women recently have tagged their social media posts with the hash tag “Me Too.” These two words are meant to bring attention to sexual assault and highlight its prevalence, since it is not often spoken about. This movement began ten years ago when an African American woman wanted to bring attention to the problem of sexual harassment and assault. Now, in response to movie producer Harvey Weinstein's sexual assault scandal, it has become a movement. Listen to hear more about how social media and the #metoo campaign is helping people speak out about sexual harassment and assault.
ELA High School
Amy Tan has written a new novel, "The Valley of Amazement" which is set in both San Francisco and Shanghai in the early 1900s. This story explores Chinese cultural practices, American and Chinese identities, and the complexities of mother-daughter relationships. Tan’s book highlights our stereotypes and forces readers to question their assumptions about certain societal roles. While she wrote, Tan, too, questioned her own assumptions about her ancestry, and gained a more nuanced understanding of her family’s past. Listen to hear more about a novel’s potential to impact both readers and author alike.
ELA Middle School
Author Marjane Satrapi created the graphic novel “Persepolis”—later adapted as a movie—about her experience growing up during the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran. Satrapi was a rebellious teenager, fighting to maintain her beliefs and individuality while living under a government that dictated how its people should live—for example, mandating that women must wear veils. Listen to hear about the Iranian government’s reaction to the movie and how others reacted to it.
Current Event April 21, 2017
In India, only 2% of citizens pay income taxes. There are many reasons for this, including that a large number of Indians do not meet the minimum salary for taxation. But there are loopholes in income reporting, and there is a cultural belief that the government is not using taxes to help the people, so many people just don’t pay. In India, unlike in America, the government doesn’t run large social welfare programs like Social Security, so Indians avoid paying taxes even if it’s illegal. Listen to this story and then debate: Should citizens pay taxes? Why or why not?
Current Event April 19, 2017
African-American artist Kerry James Marshall has made it his life goal to make black culture “indispensable” and “undeniable” to the art world. Marshall has dedicated his career to painting black subjects and depicting African-American experience through art. He hopes that in showing his work in major museums, he is combatting the historical underrepresentation of black culture in history. Listen to learn more about the artist Kerry James Marshall and his views on black culture in the art world.
Current Event March 2, 2017
New studies have found that when people eat the same food, they feel more connected, leading to greater trust and cooperation. Scientists have found that in addition to the experience of spending time together and enjoying conversation during meals, people also strengthen connections when they eat the same food. Listen to learn more about the relationship between food, trust and cooperation.