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the Extra Half

the Extra Half

By Natania Hoffman
Conversations with biculturals from all walks of life, looking at context and perspectives on living in the intersection of culture, language, and history.
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Introducing the Extra Half

the Extra Half

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24: this leaf belongs to sassafras
A conversation with Alexis Nelson, social media manager at BARK and creator of Black Forager. We talk about the relationship between the origins of her family (Cape Verdean, Black American and Native American) and the history of race in the United States, and about what happens when tracing genealogy is not possible. Alexis also talks about the process of becoming Black Forager and how foraging, for her, is a synthesis of her parents’ cultural heritage. To support our work, visit patreon.com/theextrahalf
01:09:37
March 1, 2021
23: a flag on every cucumber
A conversation with Simen Fegran, German-Norwegian horn player and member of the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig. We talk about the importance of understanding the past as a nation and about how patriotism is perceived in Germany, Norway, and the United States. We also talk about his experiences living in Western and Eastern Germany, his time on tour with the Gustav Mahler Youth orchestra, and about the role that the Gewandhausorchester played in the Leipzig community during the pandemic.
01:00:04
February 1, 2021
22: storytellers
A conversation with Rosalind Chao and Yi-Mei Templeman, mother and daughter, who were both born in the United States. Rosalind is an actress known for her roles in the Joy Luck Club, Mulan (2020), Star Trek, The Laundromat, Freaky Friday, among others; Yi-Mei is a cellist and founding member of Trio Gaia who additionally explores dimensions of music making such as singing, playing, strumming, composing, arranging, and improvising. We talk about their cultural ties to the USA, China, and England and about the importance of the performing arts as a means of connecting people, genres, stories, and experiences.
01:13:26
January 25, 2021
21: you’re meant to be in music
A conversation with Harriet Langley, violinist. Harriet is Korean and Australian, and lived in several other countries including Belgium and the United States. We talk about the role musicians can play in the world, about learning violin in different languages and contexts, navigating race and gender across cultures, and about learning to fit in - or not - in her countries of heritage. And at the end we enter a topic that, while tangential, is important to both of us: pescetarianism, vegetarianism, and the influence of what we eat on the world. To support our work, visit patreon.com/theextrahalf
52:16
December 7, 2020
20: a Wednesday homecoming
a conversation with Luisa Weiss, creator of the Wednesday Chef. An Italian-American who lives in Berlin, Luisa is a writer, home cook, editor, translator, and the author of one of the most well-known food blogs today. We have a fascinating conversation about how food can be a powerful constant in a life characterized by change, about her intercontinental “commute” as a child, and about her realization as an adult that Berlin was truly home. We also talk about the quality of produce in different countries, the position that American expats held in post-war West Berlin, and about the culinary challenge she faces as a parent: striking a balance between her desire for stability and her perpetual curiosity.
55:16
November 30, 2020
19: very different mindsets
A conversation with Nina de Félice, pianist. Nina is French and Mauritian and also lived in Switzerland, Germany, and the Czech Republic. In addition to her performing career, she is the co-founder of the Festival Contrepoints Croisés in France, and of An Artist’s Blog, a new platform which gathers writing and thoughts about music. She also holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in mathematics. We talk about how to reconcile basic assumptions that are often divergent, and about the ways in which culture shapes our concept of “society.” Nina talks about the current situation in Mauritius, the ecological loss the island has suffered, and the different ways in which her families view the past and celebrate tradition.
49:06
November 23, 2020
18: a moving, spiritual experience
A conversation with Dr. Shawn E. Okpebholo. A sought-after and wonderful composer, Shawn’s parents are from the United States and Nigeria. We talk about what it means to be Black and/or African-American, how his worldview has shifted in the last fifteen years, and how strongly knowing his own roots influenced his trajectory. We also talk about the importance of being Nigerian for for him growing up as well as the joy and surprise of going there for the first time as an adult, paired with the immediate sense of connection and belonging that he felt meeting his family. For more information about his work, visit shawnokpebholo.com
01:07:60
November 16, 2020
17: your mom didn't teach you Spanish?
A conversation with Josiah Coe, whose family is from the USA and the Philippines. We talk about his childhood on a farm in rural Georgia with seven siblings, the ways in which he grew up surrounded by Filipino culture within the United States, and how the concept of “otherizing," useful to some, is ultimately meaningless. He discusses the feeling of often being misidentified as Iranian or Mexican, and how such experiences led him to discovering those cultures and their languages. We also talk about his life as a violist and the importance of truly listening in today’s world.
01:18:20
November 9, 2020
16: in the same bunkers as their fathers
A conversation with Armine Sargsyan, who is from Armenia and Lithuania. Armine talks about her upbringing in independent Lithuania and in Cyprus, the development of her own cultural identity, and the importance of raising international awareness about the ongoing conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh; she recently organized a demonstration in Vilnius, while her husband is currently on the frontline in the Artsakh. The story of her mother’s emigration to Lithuania is intertwined with the conflicts of the 1990s, and we discuss the parallels between that time and the war that started on September 27th and is continuing to escalate. 
01:04:41
November 2, 2020
15: what time is de trein?
A conversation with Amarins Wierdsma, Dutch and American violinist. We talk about what it means to understand how a country works, and about how directness can be valued very differently in different contexts and cultures. We also talk about differences in musical education in the United States and in various countries in Europe, how the balance between formality and informality has shifted linguistically and culturally over time, and the aftermath of colonialism in the Netherlands and in the USA.
01:13:45
October 26, 2020
14: Italian-(and)-American
A conversation with Edoardo Ballerini, Italian and American narrator and actor. A two-time winner of the Audiobook Publishers Association’s Best Male Narrator Audie Award, Edoardo has recorded nearly 300 titles, from classic works by Tolstoy, Dante, Kafka, Whitman and Camus, to best-sellers by James Patterson and David Baldacci. We discuss growing up bicultural, ways in which being Italian and American is different from being Italian-American, and how his career as an actor and as a narrator were both influenced by his biculturalism, albeit in very different ways.
48:21
October 5, 2020
13: I was born because of music
A conversation with Jakob Nierenz, cellist. Jakob’s parents are German and African-American, and he grew up in Lüneburg, Germany. We talk about his two years spent in the United States pursuing a Master’s degree at Rice University, his work with Ensemble Reflektor, and about the importance of meaningful programming in classical music. We also compare the ways in which the United States and Germany have traditionally looked at their own past, and the role of nationalism in both countries.
49:11
September 28, 2020
12: there's this shared understanding
A conversation with Martina and Costanza Pereyra, Italian and Argentinian sisters who grew up in Germany, the Netherlands, and Portugal. Martina is studying at the Nuova Accademia delle Belle Arti in Milano, while Costanza studied at Warwick University and the London School of Economics, currently serving as Marketing Coordinator at NBCUniversal Media. We talk about what it means to grow up as third-culture kids and the challenges of having to start over in each new country as well as the special bonds and friendships within their international communities. We also talk about the responsibilities that come with being bicultural and about how to bring multiculturalism to the workplace and to the table as a positive force.
53:16
September 21, 2020
11: parallels & common grounds
A conversation with Julia Hartley, who was raised in Belgium by English and Italian parents. Currently a full-time researcher at the University of Warwick, she has a PhD in modern French and medieval Italian from the University of Oxford and an MA in Iranian Studies from the SOAS university of London. Julia is currently working on her second book, which looks at the portrayal of Iran in 19th century french literature and we talk about one of the defining characteristic of her academic work: finding connection between time periods and cultures which, at first glance, seem to have very little in common. We also talk about her experience learning Persian, her work in theatre, and the screenplay for a television series that she has written in the last several months. If you’d like to support our work, please visit http://www.patreon.com/theextrahalf
01:02:37
September 14, 2020
10.1: non devi scegliere (IT)
Una conversazione con Abril Muvumbi. Abril è di Imola, dello Zambia, e della Repubblica democratica del Congo. Si è candidata per le prossime elezioni nella lista civica di Imola “Imola riparte” e abbiamo avuto una conversazione straordinaria sul biculturalismo, la politica italiana attuale, il suo lavoro con Cécile Kyenge al parlamento europeo e le sue idee per il futuro. Ci racconta che spesso le veniva chiesto di scegliere tra essere Europea e Africana e del percorso che le ha fatto capire che è, semplicemente, entrambi. Se volete sostenerci, potete trovarci su http://www.patreon.com/theextrahalf
01:23:28
September 7, 2020
10.2: you don't have to choose (EN)
A conversation with Abril Muvumbi. Abril was born in Italy and her parents are from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and from Zambia. She’s currently running for city council in her native Imola with the election in just a few weeks, and we had an amazing conversation about what biculturalism means to her, about current Italian politics, and about her ideas for the future. She tells us about her work with Cécile Kyenge at the European Parliament, about feeling African in Europe and European in Africa, and about a special journey that made her understand for the first time that she is truly both. If you’d like to support our work, please visit http://www.patreon.com/theextrahalf
22:05
September 7, 2020
9: don't be naïve
A conversation with Robertas Lozinskis, pianist. Robertas' family is Russian and Jewish and he was born and raised in Kaunas, Lithuania. We reflect on the toll that fascism and communism took on his country and about his belonging to ethnic minorities that were often in tension with the local population. We talk about his love for Lithuania that stops just short of patriotism, about the importance of assimilation, and about how history bleeds into the present in ways that, while difficult to face, cannot be avoided. Robertas tells us about the festival that he co-founded, Kaunas Piano Fest, and how it changed him as a musician and artist. And we talk about his incredible passion for geography which has accompanied him for over two decades. If you’d like to support our work, please visit https://www.patreon.com/theextrahalf
01:03:46
August 31, 2020
8: that gives you 200%
A conversation with Natalia Kitamikado, designer. Natalia is Japanese-Polish and was raised in both countries. Active in product design, scenography, and costume design in opera, theater, dance and film, Natalia has worked extensively with director Krystian Lada. They, with set designer Didzis Jaunzems, have recently been selected as one of three finalist teams for the 2020 Ring Awards. At the time of our conversation she had just become a mother, as her first daughter was only eleven days old. And in this very special moment of Natalia’s life, we talk about the shifting role biculturalism can play in childhood, adolescence, professional life, and now motherhood and planning for the future. If you’d like to support our work, please visit https://www.patreon.com/theextrahalf
55:16
August 24, 2020
7: a door to poetry, humor, and beauty
A conversation with Muriel Razavi, violist. Muriel is Persian-American and was born and raised in Freiburg, Germany. She obtained degrees in viola performance at the Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler and the Universität der Künste, Berlin, additionally studying “the History and Culture of the Middle East” and “Religion and Culture” at the Freie Universität Berlin and the Humbolt Universität. We talk about what happens when the countries we identify with are in conflict, the importance of understanding the past to understand the present, and the parallels between biculturalism and “bi-professionalism”, which are many and rarely discussed. If you’d like to support our work, please visit https://www.patreon.com/theextrahalf
47:13
August 17, 2020
6: I am from Cologne
A conversation with Pilar Czoske, lawyer. Pilar is Chilean and German, and grew up in Germany and Ecuador. We talk about how identity shifts and evolves over time, her degrees in law and Chinese studies at the University of Cologne, and how factors such as political views and socio-economic status can lead to strong interpersonal connections across cultures.
31:50
July 27, 2020
5: bicultural?
A conversation with Brandon Garbot, violinist. Brandon's heritage is European and Japanese but he grew up in the United States in a monolingual family. We talk about the enigmatic nature of identity, curiosity about cultures whose influences have been diluted over time, and finding ways of self-expression through music when language fails.
39:53
July 20, 2020
4: a human being in this world
A conversation with Aliya Vodovozova, flutist. We talk about growing up in Turkey and Russia, understanding where home is, the side-by-side mosque and church of Kazan, and finding one’s place in international communities around the world.
36:23
July 13, 2020
3: thirteen years & half a world apart
A conversation with David and Ellen Mamedov, pianist and digital marketer/strategist. We talk about growing up in Azerbaijan and the United States, what happens when the “secret” language trick goes wrong, the challenges of raising a bicultural child, and impact of one's place of birth on identity.
01:14:53
July 6, 2020
2: of course I speak Croatian
A conversation with Hiwote Tadesse, violist. We talk about growing up in Croatia with an Ethiopian father, thinking about identity through the lenses of language, appearance, and tradition, and her dreams of channeling her profession to create positive change in Ethiopia.
45:43
June 29, 2020
1: (where) is the grass greener?
A conversation with Benjamin Hoffman, violinist. We talk about growing up in the United States and Italy, the effects of language on personality, and navigating pop culture(s) as a young person.
40:25
June 29, 2020
Introducing the Extra Half
Welcome to the Extra Half, a conversation-based podcast with bicultural guests from all walks of life.
01:08
June 27, 2020