Topic: Culture

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Current Event March 13, 2018

Learning about Mexican Culture through Tacos

Culture KERA Latin America

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.

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Current Event February 2, 2018

Debate: Should Schools Hold Student Cell Phones?

Technology Culture

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?

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Current Event January 29, 2018

Chinese New Year Brings Red Envelopes with Cash

Culture China

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.

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Current Event January 18, 2018

A Quinceañera Story

Gender Culture Latin America

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.

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Current Event December 22, 2017

A Scientist Explains Santa's Christmas Eve Journey

Earth and Space Science Culture

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.

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Current Event December 21, 2017

The History of the Kwanzaa Tradition

Religion Culture

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.

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Current Event November 22, 2017

Saving the Thanksgiving Turkey

Animals Culture

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.

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Current Event November 8, 2017

More Women Say #MeToo

Gender Culture

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.

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ELA High School

Amy Tan’s 'Valley of Amazement'

Literature Culture

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.

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ELA Middle School

Growing Up in Revolutionary Iran

Politics Religion Culture Middle East Memoir Graphic Novels

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.

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Current Event April 21, 2017

Debate: Why Should Citizens Pay Taxes?

Civics/Government Culture

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?

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Current Event April 19, 2017

African Americans in the Art World

Race Culture Arts

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.

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Current Event March 2, 2017

Eating Together Helps People Agree

Life Science Psychology Culture

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.

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Current Event February 1, 2017

Teaching Millennial Police Officers to Communicate

Law Culture

For centuries police officers have used face-to-face conversations as a central part of their work. But as more younger officers join the force, these Millennials are used to having much of their social interaction online, and they don’t have a lot of experience engaging in conversation. Police departments are now requiring new police officers to have face-to-face conversations with the public and are teaching them how to read body language. A new training program for young police officers includes having them engage with strangers in conversation and providing feedback. Listen to hear more about this new training and why it’s needed.

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Current Event December 15, 2016

English and Spanish Shakespeare

Culture Latin America Theater Plays

A theater in Providence, Rhode Island is making an effort to get more people interested in Shakespeare, regardless of the language they speak. A touring production of Romeo and Juliet was performed in both English and Spanish. The theater first put on the play in Providence, where nearly 40 percent of the population is Latino. Listen to the story to hear the experiences of the director and actors to learn how putting on this production was a chance to showcase the culture of Latinos.

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ELA High School

Origins and Relevance of the ‘Feminine Mystique’

Literature Gender Culture

Betty Friedan’s 1963 book, “The Feminine Mystique,” remains one of the landmark works of Feminist literature. At a time in American history when most women were expected to find fulfillment as housewives and mothers, Friedan’s book challenged the male-dominated post-WWII culture, and helped pave the way for the “Women’s Liberation Movement" of the 1960s and 1970s. This audio story looks at “The Feminine Mystique” on the 50th anniversary of its publication, with three women discussing their relationship with the groundbreaking book. Listen to learn more about the origins of “The Feminine Mystique,” and what relevance it may still hold for the gender politics of today.

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Current Event October 11, 2016

New Museum Captures History of African Americans

Politics Race Culture

National Museum of African-American History and Culture opened on the National Mall in Washington D.C. in September 2016. It started with a vision and a mission to tell the story of America through the lens of black history and culture. Many people have given parts of their lives to this museum, which has collected 37,000 artifacts. The first item to come into the building was Jim Crow-era segregated train car that was lowered underground. Currently, 3,000 artifacts are displayed in the museum, and the curators will keep collecting for future exhibitions. Listen to hear more about this museum that was first proposed by black veterans of the civil war, and was recently opened to the public.

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Current Event September 30, 2016

In a Small Town in Vermont, Refugees Have Positive Economic Impact

Immigration Culture

Vermont is the new home of many refugees from Somalia and other countries that have become dangerous to live in. Some residents in towns with large concentrations of refugees are concerned that the newcomers will be a burden on taxpayers. For the most part, however, refugees are contributing to the well-being of the communities they have become a part of. The local residents in one town in Vermont, welcome them. Listen to hear about the experiences of residents of Winooski, Vermont and the refugees who have recently moved there.

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