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By PRI | Stories of a Changing America from PRI

How many Asian Hollywood stars can you name? Right, it's not easy

There are a lot of dating clichés. Some that are backed up with data. Like the one that says Asian American men are thought of and see themselves as one of the least desirable groups. To quote some recent articles: Are Asian Men Undateable? Why Won’t Western Women Date Chinese Men?

So I Skyped my …


How African Americans and immigrants in Baltimore find common ground in police reform

Yves Gomes is 22 and lives near Baltimore. He came to the US when he was a baby. His parents were undocumented and tried to get asylum here. They’re Christian and claimed they faced persecution in majority-Hindu India, where Gomes’s mother is from; and majority-Muslim Bangladesh, where his father …


Her first days in America were lonely, but this immigrant from India built a life here

In Bombay, we're surrounded by people — the cook, the cleaning lady, the vendors who come to your door to sell eggs, fish, vegetables or milk. There are uncles, aunts, cousins, second- and third-cousins of your extended family. If you are a friend of a friend, upon introduction you instantly become …


In Baltimore, neighborhoods come together across cultural lines

I met Grace Lyo while she stood in front of one of the markets she runs in the West Baltimore neighborhood of Sandtown-Winchester. A handful of National Guard soldiers were at a metal barricade nearby. It's a few days after violence broke out during generally peaceful protests in the wake of the …


Celebrating Mother's Day from 'across the seven seas'

For those lucky enough to have a mother and a loving relationship with her, being separated is always tough. On Mother’s Day, the feeling blooms. Millions of Americans have moms (and mother figures) in other countries, making the day a particularly bittersweet reminder of what they’re missing.

Neha …

Public Broadcasters

Thank the Ottoman Empire for the taco al pastor

At the Supermercado Mexico in Portland, Oregon, you’ll find a turning spit of pork, basted with chili and onions, dripping fat and flavor. Shave some off into a tortilla and you’ve got a taco al pastor, the classic Mexican street food.

It’s a similar scene halfway across the world in Jerusalem. At …

Ottoman Empire

Manicured nails come cheap for New Yorkers, but workers pay the price

Reporter Sarah Maslin Nir was getting a pedicure at a 24-hour nail salon a while back when she started chatting with her manicurist.

"I said it's crazy that this is a 24-hour salon," Maslin Nir recalled. "Who does the night shift?" The woman laughed — she did.

Maslin Nir soon learned that the …

New York

A journalist tracks what led up to the Boston bombing and reflects on her own immigrant life

A life sentence or the death penalty. A federal jury will soon decide which sentence Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will get for his role in the April 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, which killed three people and wounded 264 more. His older brother, Tamerlan, died in a police shootout. He was 26. Dzhokhar is …


The Salvadoran town where migrants are hotly debated folk heroes

Intipucá is a small town in southeastern El Salvador that lies close to a beach popular with surfers. But the reason most outsiders know about this place has nothing to do with tourism. Intipucá is famous for the people who have left.

An estimated 5,000 Intipucá locals now live in and around …

Public Broadcasters

For hip-hop artist Omar Offendum, apathy toward Syria is not an option

Omar Offendum wears a lot of hats. He describes himself as a Syrian American, a hip-hop artist, designer, poet and peace activist.

Offendum's debut album, "SyrianamericanA," was released before the Arab Spring. “It’s hard living in the West when you know the East has got the best of me," he raps on …

Hip Hop

Memories of fleeing Vietnam, landing in Idaho and asking people for candy

First stop: Guam.

That’s what Joshua Nguyen remembers, after he and his family fled Vietnam in 1975, when North Vietnamese forces captured Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam. Like many others, they left on crammed ships for Guam, where the US government had established a base where the refugees …


Looking at the Vietnam War’s aftermath through the eyes of a communist spy

“I am a spy, a sleeper, a spook, a man of two faces," reads the opening line of the "The Sympathizer." The man who says it doesn't have a name. He's known only as the Captain, and the new book from Viet Thanh Nguyen reads like the Captain's confession.

The man, a spy for the North Vietnamese army, …


Nepali students in Boston channel their grief into fundraising efforts for earthquake relief

Leaders of the Nepali Student Association at the University of Massachusetts Boston called an emergency meeting Monday afternoon. They expected a handful of people to show up. Instead, nearly 40 crammed into the room they had booked at the student activities center.

“This is the biggest turnout …


New to America, this young Vietnamese refugee wanted to ‘erase’ his past

Red apples floating in barrels of cold water. That’s what Thu-Thuy Truong remembers after she arrived at a refugee camp in Fort Chaffee, Arkansas, not long after fleeing Vietnam with her family in April 1975.

Along with those the barrels of apples, Thu-Thuy, who was 13 at the time, remembers the …


For Nepalese abroad, 'you feel so helpless being so far away'

A day after a devastating earthquake struck Nepal, hundreds of people gathered at Diversity Plaza in Queens, New York. It was Sunday evening and, as the vigil got underway, a woman led the crowd in singing Nepal’s national anthem. "Woven from hundreds of flowers, we are one garland that's Nepali," …


Why you won’t see Ho Chi Minh City appear in this newspaper in California

The oldest Vietnamese-language newspaper in the US is based in Little Saigon in Orange County, California, about an hour south of Los Angeles. It was founded by and for refugees, escaping Vietnam after the fall of Saigon 40 years ago.

When you walk into the offices of Nguoi Viet Daily News, the …

Print Media

Remembering the California refugee camp that gave Vietnamese a new life in the US

Forty years ago this month, as North Vietnamese forces were trying to enter the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon, Frances Nguyen was trying to get out.

Just 12 years old at the time, Nguyen and her parents headed to a harbor and managed to get aboard a vessel. "It was so full,” she remembers. …


Why 'An Ember In The Ashes' could launch Sabaa Tahir into JK Rowling territory

Sabaa Tahir ruined my sleep.

Her new book, "An Ember In The Ashes," kept me up at night. I couldn't put the book down. I'm not the only one. It seems as though anyone who touches the book cannot stop reading until the story ends. It has the addictive quality of "The Hunger Games" combined with the …

Public Broadcasters

Forty years after Vietnam, a refugee relives his journey from Saigon to San Francisco

One of the most enduring images of the Vietnam War is its final one: The last helicopter taking off from the American embassy in Saigon on April 30, 1975, with would-be refugees clinging to the landing skids.

Just two days before that, at the age of 11, Andrew Lam escaped Saigon. Along with his …

Northern California

A Buddhist-founded university is now firmly in the mainstream

High on a hill at the edge of a wilderness park overlooking Southern California’s Laguna Beach sits the stunning campus of Soka University of America. The school draws its name from Soka Gakkai, a new Buddhist movement started in Japan before World War II by Tsunesaburo Makiguchi.

According to Wendy …

College & University

Even after a century, the Armenian genocide is a cornerstone of Armenian identity

Harout Bassmajian was born here in the US, but he grew up steeped in his family's Armenian culture. He went to Armenian primary school, spoke Armenian at home and heard again and again the story of how his grandfather was orphaned during the Armenian Genocide when he was just a child.

“I thought it …

Head to the US-Mexico border and find a Chinese food scene like none other

Taquerias and Mexican restaurants are old hat along the California-Mexico border.

Look harder, though, and spot another type of cuisine that dates back more than 100 years — a kind of fusion from before fusion was a thing.

You'll find it at a restaurant in the California city of El Centro, just north …

This Seattle boy was just six when he was asked to protect an undocumented family

How do you explain deportation to a child?

A Seattle mom grappled with this question when her son’s best friend, who we'll call Jorge, shared a secret one night at dinner. My family is undocumented, Jorge told them. Her son, Ronan, was just six at the time.

It was a secret they would all keep, but …

Closing soon: A go-to emporium that was 'part Asian bodega and totally New York City'

Selling bamboo steamers, embroidered slippers and paper lanterns imported from China hardly seems like a radical idea. But things were different in 1971.

Back then, trading with Communist China was still restricted thanks to the Cold War, and there wasn't an obvious demand for knick-knacks and …

'Am I going to make this or not?' — One American's escape from Yemen

Back in December, the coast seemed clear for Mokhtar Alkhanshali.

Alkhanshali, raised in the US by Yemeni parents, wanted to keep pursuing the business he has worked on for years: bringing high-quality Yemeni coffee to the world.

“The situation was not as bad as it is right now,” he says of Yemen, …

LA's master mariachi tailor says sewing started out like a game for him

Tailor Jorge Tello’s store feels more like a mariachi shrine than a tailor shop. Photos of Mexican stars like Pedro Infante fill the walls. And a glass case features one of Tello’s most intricate suits — a crisp, three-piece outfit with gold, flowerly designs down the lapel.

“It’s $2000. Very …

The Dodgers' Spanish-language broadcaster has been serving the team since its first days in LA

When Jaime Jarrín started play-by-play announcing for the Spanish-language broadcast of the Los Angeles Dodgers, he was a baseball neophyte. In his home city of Quito, Ecuador, he says, soccer was the sport that brought the public together.

“Before coming to this country, I’d never seen a baseball …

This young Yemeni American is on a quest to bring coffee from the 'land of Mocha' to the world

About a year ago, a friend of mine invited me to a cupping at the back of a coffee shop in San Francisco. Coffee professionals, several who flew in, sampled the liquid from small cups, spit it out in mugs and consulted each other on the taste.

There were a lot of “Whoas!” and “This is amazing.” But …

How 'Khmerican' connects Cambodian Americans

Phatry Derek Pan first heard the term "Khmerican" in the mid-90s when Phanit Duong used the term to describe a martial arts kick.

In 2003, he began using the word atThe Phnom Penh Post as a catchy way to identify a Cambodian American. When his then-girlfriend held a photo shoot called, "I am …