Youth Advocates for Immigrants & Refugees is a group of highly-motivated high school students who have united to build bridges of cross-cultural understanding through art, activism, and storytelling. We at YAIR recognize that the future lies with youth, and that is why it is crucial to foster a sense of belonging and understanding within multicultural communities.
The Speak Up/Speak Out podcast series is a platform for immigrant and refugee youth to share their stories, subsequently fostering intercultural connections and empathetic exchange throughout the Portland-metropolitan community. We hope to combat misconceptions of immigrants and refugees, build trust among disparate communities, and highlight the power of storytelling.
Bahar Madani, a high school junior at Oregon Islamic Academy, shares stories of living in Portland as an Iranain immigrant. Listen to Bahar reflect on her childhood in Iran, adapting to the rainy Portland weather, youth advocacy efforts, and aspirations for the future.
Sahlan Farah, now a sophomore at Portland State University, returns to Speak Up/Speak Out to discuss how being the first in her family to go to college has impacted her as well as how both college and home life drastically shifted during the spread of COVID-19. Later on, she shares her reactions and emotions surrounding police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Bethy Temelso, a freshman at Portland State University, shares powerful and moving stories about her experience growing up under a dictatorship in Eritrea, living in Sudan, overcoming the language barrier, and living under different systems of law enforcement.
Tsiyon Geremew, a high school senior, shares stories of growing up in Portland, Oregon as an Ethiopian immigrant. Listen as Tsiyon reflects on her experiences of finding community, acting as a role model for her younger sister, and re-connecting with family during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In this compelling introduction to their pilot podcast season, the founders of Youth Advocates for Immigrants & Refugees reflect on their experiences as leaders, discuss the power of stories, and introduce their four immigrant/refugee interviewees.
Belise Nishimwe shares stories of growing up in Portland as a Tanzanian refugee and daughter of immigrants. Listen to her reflect on generational and cultural differences, academic challenges, the language barrier, and combating social injustices.
Sahlan Farrah, a graduate of Reynolds High School, reflects on her experience as a Somali immigrant. Listen as she recounts stories from her life in Kenya, overcoming gender stigma in her community, and encountering racism in the classroom.
Farah H. narrates her experience as an immigrant by juxtaposing life in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the U.S. Listen as she recounts painful anecdotes of xenophobia and misogyny, as well as moments of community-building and cross-cultural bonding.
Faiza Jama, university student and I Am M.O.R.E. board member, tells her story as a Somali immigrant. She recounts stories of cultural barriers inside and outside the classroom, a funny anecdote involving an escalator (listen to find out!), finding a voice to advocate for herself, and forging new friendships.