Our second cohort for the latest series of Neighborhood to Neighborhood project all hail from two Facing History and Ourselves schools in Manhattan, high schools in the Lower East Side and the East Village. The Rookies from East Side Community High School and Essex Street Academy tirelessly reported on their multimedia stories--on topics about sneaker lines, the English language, art and violence, and homophobia.
The Neighborhood to Neighborhood Project was made possible by the Hive Digital Media Learning Fund in The New York Community Trust and The MacArthur Foundation.
Radio Rookies Sam and Sydne both grew up in New York City and are used to hearing the polyglot of language that makes up the fabric of this city. The multitude of languages spoken in their communities has never bothered Sam (who speaks Spanish with her parents) or Sydne, which is why they are dismayed by the “English-only” movement and people who express anger over having to “push 1 for English” on automated phone calls. But when some people in their own school and even families express a similar sentiment they decide to dig a little deeper.
Grisel speaks Spanish at home with her mom in NYC, and during the summers with her dad and cousins in Puerto Rico. She never thought it was a gift to be bilingual, but her close friend Aura had a very different experience. Aura’s Chilean parents chose to speak English with her when she was a little girl and, as a result, she can’t speak Spanish or communicate easily with her grandparents. Aura longs to have Spanish tumble easily out of her mouth and she wonders why her parents made the choice to teach her English first.
At East Side Community School homophobia isn’t tolerated. Kids say that teasing and bullying are rare and when it does happen, teachers and fellow students get involved to stop it. The school has an active gay-straight alliance club, “Rainbow Bright”, and teachers strive to be inclusive in their curricula and language. But not all schools are so supportive of LGTBQ students and homophobia is everywhere. Four East Side students want to find out what actually helps homophobic people change their minds to become more accepting.
It’s no secret that a lot of teenagers love sneakers. But for some kids, their passion for kicks consumes hours each day, and hundreds of dollars every season. “Sneakerheads”, as they call themselves, will queue up overnight to be the first to buy a limited edition pair of Jordans. Radio Rookies Josh and Kyrie routinely try to convince their mothers to shell out $200-$300 for a new pair of shoes, which are walking markers of status for many teens, while Rookie Gibran finds the whole thing over the top. The three Rookies take listeners inside the wonderful and colorful world of Sneakerheads.
Alicia first turned to writing music after her beloved grandfather died suddenly four years ago. She’s fortunate enough to attend a high school with a music writing program, Beat Rhymers, so last year when her mother was shot in the leg and her uncle was killed in a car accident she found release in her beats and lyrics. Alicia wonders if other kids struggling with loss and violence use the arts to “get it out.”