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“The Cut” is a weekly reporters notebook-type essay by an Ideastream Public Media content creator, reflecting on the news and on life in Northeast Ohio. What exactly does “The Cut” mean? It's a throwback to the old days of using a razor blade to cut analog tape. In radio lingo, we refer to sound bites as “cuts.” So think of these behind-the-scene essays as “cuts” from Ideastream's producers.

'Arrivals' tells immigration stories that go far beyond geography

Bhakta Rizal of Akron, of Shanti Community Farms, is one of the storytellers in Ideastream's "Arrivals" series from the "Sound of Us."
Ygal Kaufman
Ideastream Public Media
Bhakta Rizal of Akron, of Shanti Community Farms, is one of the storytellers in Ideastream's "Arrivals" series from the "Sound of Us."

When we hear stories from recent immigrants and refugees, we tend to hear about their journeys to this country — the struggles and triumphs that brought them to the United States in search of new opportunities.

There’s no doubt those are valuable narratives, ones that tie us to our collective past as a nation where the majority of people have overseas ancestry.

But what else do these voices have to say? What if we asked a group of recent immigrants what stories they wanted to tell the world?

That’s exactly what we did with “Arrivals,” the latest series from Ideastream’s “Sound of Us” community storytelling initiative. We produced it in partnership with the International Institute of Akron, a nonprofit that helps newcomers resettle here.

And guess what? None of the five people who worked with us for the series wanted to talk specifically about their immigration story.

Instead, our first storyteller, Tamana Ziar, talked to Ideastream’s Kelly Krabill about her work helping fellow immigrants resettle in the Rubber City – even as she, herself, continues to navigate the complexities of making a new home here. (In the future, she’d like to talk about her work supporting the mental health of Afghani women).

Next week, Randhoj Pandhak shares with Ideastream’s Ygal Kaufman his story of leaving behind the music he loved as a Bhutanese refugee in Nepal – and rediscovering it once he arrived in Akron. He now performs publicly as both a singer and instrumentalist.

In two weeks, a Congolese refugee, Makambo Mtambala, takes me onto a soccer pitch as he coaches a team of fellow refugees – and talks about how he’d love to develop a bigger fan base to help the guys feel more at home.

And the stories go on from there. You can catch new installments every Tuesday through the first week of February on WKSU’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered, as well as on the “Sound of Us” landing page – where you’ll also find photos and bonus videos and audio.

The common thread among these storytellers is that they primarily wanted to look forward, even as they were honest about the challenges they’ve faced in the past. We hope you’ll join them (and us) as they share the sounds of their own voices and lives.

"The Cut" is featured in Ideastream Public Media's weekly newsletter, The Frequency Week in Review. To get The Frequency Week in Review, The Daily Frequency or any of our newsletters, sign up on Ideastream's newsletter subscription page.

Justin Glanville is the deputy editor of engaged journalism at Ideastream Public Media.