Currently, one in seven US residents is an immigrant, making up 14 percent of the population, and each with a unique story to tell. Like you, many have had to face the realities of integrating into a new country, learn to navigate their way around a new language and culture, and grapple with maintaining their cultural identity.
You can discover unique immigration perspectives from podcasts, which will help you learn that you are not alone on your immigration journey. A podcast is a series of recorded episodes that can be downloaded and listened to on your smartphone or internet browser. The content of a podcast series can range from carefully scripted to completely improvised. In this article, we’ll be sharing podcast series and one-off episodes that focus on the American immigration experience.
Multi-part episodes dedicated to the immigrant experience.
How to Be American: The History of Immigration and Migration
The How to Be American podcast by New York City’s Tenement Museum explores the evolution of what it means to be American throughout the nation’s history. Whether your family has been in American for generations or a few weeks, you’ll find value in the stories of ordinary people throughout history who have shaped what it means to be and to become American.
Listeners can learn about the historical struggles and triumphs of the often-colliding cultures of immigrants to New York City’s lower east side through the podcast and perspectives from historians, chefs, musicians, and others that help connect the stories to the present day.
Beginner is a podcast about “learning to belong, one skill at a time.” A 10-episode series from 2017 that chronicles 24-year old Pakistani-American Misha Euceph as she learns to do things for the first time that are integral parts of an American childhood. While learning how to do activities such as riding a bike or swimming for the first time, Misha examines what it means to belong from the unique perspective of an immigrant adolescent.
A podcast about turning trauma into triumph, the Modern Immigrant podcast tells stories of immigrants who share the most challenging and extraordinary experiences of their lives. Vero, a Venezuelan native, hosts the show to elevate immigrant voices, exploring topics such as Latino representation and president Biden’s immigration reform bill.
Among the stories you’ll hear are those of Luis Rosales, who walked from Honduras to the United States at the age of eight, and Rasheed, who came to the United States from Nigeria at the age of 11 and founded the Progressive Migrants organization.
The Immigrant Show
Hosted by Anya Myers, the podcast is “for and with immigrants in the United States to share their immigration story, integration path, and American Dream.” Guest stories include Joseph from Kenya that came to America to pursue a degree in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and eventually participated in the sale and merger in a tiny startup business in a multi-million dollar deal.
You’ll also hear about Falguni from India, who followed her husband to the United States, leaving her successful career in the financial industry behind and her long hard road to becoming a personal mindset coach and a marketing mentor.
Resettled is a six-part podcast series that showcases stories of refugees as they adjust to their new lives in Virginia through interviews and personally recorded audio diaries. The series follows a family as they move into their first US home, as well as a high schooler overcoming stage fright and a chef striving to achieve his “American Dream.”
Immigrantly is a podcast that takes on difficult conversations of race, identity, multiculturalism, and stereotypes. Host Saadia Khan asks guests to think about what it means to be American, what they hope for America, and how their lives are shaped by their immigrant experience.
Guests range from award-winning journalists, professors of religion and African-American studies, community organizers, singers, actors, and everyday people who challenge the stereotypical narratives of immigrants.
My Immigrant Life
My Immigrant Life provides a platform for immigrants to speak up, share their stories, and break down the stereotypes of immigrants. Among the stories, you’ll hear about Armando Ibanez’s YouTube series about being an undocumented queer immigrant, Rose, who faced the harsh reality that living in America did not guarantee her wealth, and Karen, who struggled to earn a college degree as an undocumented student.
Mosaic is a podcast about immigration and identity, focusing on the true, personal, and often unbelievable stories of immigrants and migrants living in New England. Stories include Daniella, an unaccompanied undocumented minor who went from praying in her village church to finding herself a migrant making the treacherous journey to cross the US border. You’ll also hear about a youth baseball organization in Providence, Rhode Island, that supports Dominican immigrant families and helps build a future for the kids on and off the field.
America’s Dreamers is an inspirational source for stories, resources, and knowledge from DACA recipient leaders, entrepreneurs, and influential celebrities. Get tips from a real estate entrepreneur on how to start building wealth, hear about track star Brenda Martinez’s experience representing Team USA in the 2016 Olympics, Jose Hernandez who became the first Mexican-American NASA astronaut, and more.
Immigration Stories with Nestor Gomez
A podcast about US immigration – and all things related – national identity, culture, family, and borders. The stories, sometimes celebratory while others are tragic, will challenge dominant narratives on immigration in the United States. Hosted by storytellers Nestor Gomez and Angel Ling, Immigration Stories looks at historical and contemporary ideas, policies, and events that have shaped US identity, community, and belonging.
One-off stories in a podcast series that dives into a particular topic or story of the immigrant experience.
Undone — Ibrahim
Undone is a podcast by Gimlet Media that discovers the surprising things that happen when you think a big media news story is over. The episode entitled “Ibrahim” is about a Kurdish refugee that came to the United States in 1991. His friends and neighbors see him as the ideal American immigrant. But the US government has been trying to deport him for over a decade.
Here Be Monsters — Snow on Date Trees, Then on Pines
Here Be Monsters covers many different topics about pursuing fears and facing the unknown. In the episode, “Snow on Date Trees, Then on Pines,” listeners hear the story about Mohammad Tariq, who was a teacher in a small integrated school in Pakistan. He was forced to leave Pakistan after fearing for his life.
Tariq fled to the United States under a J1 visa and later applied for asylum. While waiting for his asylum interview, he met and proposed to an American woman who had never met a Muslim man but had heard many negative stereotypes about the Muslim culture. In this episode, Tariq discusses his plans for the future, his relationship with his fiancee, and his experience living in America.
NPR’s Student Podcast Challenge — Coming to America
In 2019, National Public Radio (NPR) hosted a student podcast challenge that invited students across the country to submit podcasts about immigration. Over 6,000 entries were received, describing students’ struggles to adjust to life in the United States, their journeys to get here, or, in some cases, their conversations with their families to discover how they came to be here. Listen to some of the standout podcasts from the contest.
Neighbors — The Language Learner
Neighbors is a narrative-driven podcast about real people. With the stories told on this podcast, hosts Jakob Lewis and Cariad Harmon hope to connect listeners to the people around them so “we can choose to love our neighbor and bring about a more civil and compassionate world.”
In the “Language Learner” episode, listeners meet Gin Thawng. Gin left Myanmar during a humanitarian crisis and now lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with his ailing wife, baby grandson, and his daughter-in-law and son. The 68-year old Thawng is a graduate of an innovative English as a Second Language (ESL) program and uses what he’s learned to show the power of language and how human connection is bigger than just words.
Radio Diaries — Juan’s Diaries: Undocumented, Then and Now
Radio Dairies tells extraordinary stories of ordinary life through first-person diaries, sound portraits, and hidden chapters of history. The episode, “Juan’s Diaries: Undocumented, Then and Now,” revisits an early interview subject, Juan Rodriguez, to find out how his life progressed since their first interview.
In 1990, Rodriquez entered the United States illegally with his family and recorded his experiences in Texas. Two decades later, Juan reports on his life as an adult with a good job, three American-born children, and the fact that he’s still undocumented.
Podcasts allow you to learn something new, engage with the world around you and are proven to make you a better listener by stimulating different parts of the brain. So whatever your interest is, whether it’s hearing immigrant stories like the ones listed above, or learning something new, chances are there’s a podcast waiting for you to discover.
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