Despite rapid economic development, Anburajan says India’s traditional attitudes about the role of women have not caught up.
Tag: Aswini Anburajan’s audio archive
FI2W reporter Aswini Anburajan hosts a conversation about the India Against Corruption movement with journalist S. Mitra Kalita and Atul Kumar, who helped organize the first New York protest in support of the anti-corruption movement.
FI2W reporter Aswini Anburajan produced a radio piece for NPR’s Latino USA on Father James Manship, a Roman Catholic priest in New Haven, Conn., who teaches his immigrant parishioners how to stand up for their civil rights, and who has been in the news in the past for being arrested in a confrontation with local police officers. Here, Aswini narrates how she managed to produce the piece, which aired on Latino USA and which you can listen to below.[audio:http://latinousa.kut.org/wp-content/lusaaudio/856seg01.mp3]
By Aswini Anburajan, FI2W contributor
If you think that ethnic reporting isn’t critical to knowing a community, read on. This is the first piece I’ve done for Feet in 2 Worlds that hasn’t been on Indian Americans. The basis of FI2W is to get reporters to write about their own communities, but even I didn’t realize why this is so important until I delved into a project for Latino USA.
My piece was originally supposed to be on the economic life of a day laborer or someone new to the country, undocumented and trying to establish a life in the U.S. That piece remains undone. Being an Indian American with some high school Spanish under my belt, I thought it would be a cake walk. Call some social service agencies, reach out to immigrant coalitions, and I could “break in.”
Four months later, I had to think again. Without truly knowing a community, or having cultural or language associations with them, I found it impossible to get through and talk to individuals who were undocumented. It wasn’t that every door I knock on was slammed in my face. Most of the time, people pretended they weren’t home. This ranged from individuals I knew with ties to the Latino community to social service agencies.
Immigrant Business Owners on Staten Island Struggle Against the Recession: FI2W Reporter Aswini Anburajan on WNYC
By Aswini Anburajan, FI2W reporter
Immigrant business owners have breathed new life into the North Shore of Staten Island, New York’s least populated and least diverse borough.
Feet in 2 Worlds partnered with WNYC, New York public radio, to produce a profile of Victory Boulevard, one of Staten Island’s major thoroughfares, for the Main Street NYC series, which examines the recession’s impact on neighborhoods across the city.
You can listen to the story by pressing play below or visiting WNYC’s web site .[audio:http://audio.wnyc.org/news/news20090511_main_st_staten_island.mp3]
The history of Victory Boulevard is like that of a lot of American Main Streets.
It was once part of a thriving downtown area until the development of suburbs drew the middle class community away from an urban center, and left areas like the northern end of Victory largely abandoned.
However, immigration to Staten Island over the past ten years has revitalized this part of the Island, which has stores that represent virtually every corner of the globe. While immigrants were once one out of ten residents in Staten Island in 1990, they are now one out of four residents. Ten percent of these immigrants own their own businesses, but the recent economic downturn has left many business owners struggling.
A&C Beauty Supply is a store that serves the Island’s African community, largely made up of Liberian and Senegalese immigrants.
Its owner, Adam, who is from Senegal, says that he noticed the downturn more than a year ago. Customers who were once avid purchasers of wigs and hair care products, now barely enter. On the day I stopped in, Adam had no customers in his store.
Kelvin Hanaf is the owner of Island Roti, a Carribbean takeout joint that serves food from his native Trinidad.
When I spoke with him he was at his wit’s end. “No one’s coming in,” he complained, saying that he would usually see weekend traffic start to pile into his store on a Thursday afternoon.
He joked that customers are cutting back so much that if they want to eat chicken roti they order a roti and cook their own chicken. Hanaf has cut prices by 50 cents on every item, and says that he just can’t afford to take the prices any lower.
Mosen Ibrahim also complains that penny pinching by the Island’s residents has taken a toll on his business. Moe’s Cafe, which he started five years ago, is one of the few places on Staten Island where you can find Mediterranean food and other dishes from Ibrahim’s native Egypt.
He was lured to Staten Island for the same reasons that many immigrants came — affordable home prices, the chance to start a business on the cheap and a small immigrant community from his native country. However, since the downturn Ibrahim has had to turn to his bank to stay afloat. They extended his mortgage, but he doesn’t mince words on what business is like right now. “Times are tough,” he said. “They’re tough for everybody but for the food business, when 80 percent of the people stop eating outside…” He trailed off with a laugh.
So who is doing well on Victory? Some of the haircutting salons like Against Da Grain Barber Shop report that even in a slow economy you still have to look good. This is one of the few stores on Victory that was crowded with customers the day I visited.
A hair braiding salon, named after its owner, Bissou, also reports that business is slowly picking back up. “A few months ago we were sitting here doing nothing,” Bissou, a Senegalese immigrant, told me, “So I can say that business is getting a little bit better.”
The one success story on Victory Boulevard, and perhaps for the future of immigrant-owned businesses on Staten Island, is Tulcingo Travel, a Mexican paquetería that facilitates the shipping of remittances and care packages between the United States and Mexico.
Immigrant entrepreneurs usually cater to their own communities, and in recent years the Mexican population on Staten Island has spiked, providing store owners who serve this community a buffer in these tough times. A Tulcingo worker told me that business had dropped off for about two months when the crisis first hit last fall, but things are back to normal now.
Could this bright spot on this struggling street mean that there is a silver lining to this crisis after all?
Feet in Two Worlds Reporters Discuss Republican National Convention Speeches on The Brian Lehrer Show
Feet in 2 Worlds continues to provide the immigrant press’ views and analysis on the conventions with regular appearances on WNYC.
This morning, reporters Pilar Marrero (columnist and political editor of Spanish-language La Opinión) and freelance journalist Aswini Anburajan were guests on The Brian Lehrer Show to discuss last night’s speeches at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul. Pilar explored how Vice Presidential nominee Governor Sarah Palin’s acceptance speech and nomination might resonate with Latino and Latina voters. Listen here:[audio:http://audio.wnyc.org/bl/bl090408apod.mp3]
During the second hour of the show, Aswini discussed the role of entrepreneurship, high-tech industries, and H-1B high-skilled immigrant workers in shaping an economic platform for the future, as well as what 21st century jobs might look like. She also shed some light on immigrant community views on free trade agreements and how they influence their party choices. Listen here:[audio:http://audio.wnyc.org/bl/bl090408bpod.mp3]
Feet in 2 Worlds reporters are providing unique immigrant perspectives on the presidential campaigns with daily appearances on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show this week from the Democratic National Convention in Denver.
Today, Feet in 2 World’s Pilar Marrero, political editor and columnist for Los Angeles’ La Opinión newspaper, analyzed the McCain and Obama campaigns’ efforts to court Latino voters. Click here to hear Pilar’s take on the most recent Latino voter poll, the latest controversy over Latino elected officials’ candidate endorsements, and the impact of the largest-scale Spanish-language outreach effort in election history.
Tomorrow, Ewa-Kern-Jedrychowska, reporter for New York-based Polish-language newspaper Nowy-Dziennik and Feet in 2 Worlds contributor, will discuss Polish-American voters’ attitudes and policy priorities. Tune in to The Brian Lehrer Show on FM 93.9, AM 820 or www.WNYC.org at 10:40 am EST to hear Ewa.
Yesterday, our reporter Aswini Anburajan dissected Indian-American political donors, their support for the proposed India-US nuclear deal, and the emerging political partnership between the American Jewish Committee and Indian-American campaign donors that was showcased at a Denver breakfast forum. Click here to listen to Aswini’s talk with Brian Lehrer.
Feet in 2 Worlds convention coverage is part of our collaboration with New York Community Media Alliance.
Editor’s note: WNYC’s website and streaming capabilities are set up slightly differently during the conventions. In order to listen to Pilar and Aswini’s interviews you must first download the first hour of Brian’s show, then fast forward to around 40 minutes past the hour (or just listen to the entire hour of excellent reporting and conversation!).
Barack Obama is reaching out to Latino evangelical leaders as part of a broader strategy to win support for his presidential campaign among Latino voters.
The Illinois senator has invested significant resources in faith outreach, holding community faith forums and courting religious leaders in key primary states such as Texas and South Carolina.
Aswini Anburajan, a former Feet in Two Worlds reporter covering the Obama campaign for for NBC News/National Journal, and current Feet in Two Worlds journalist Lorenzo Morales of El Diario/La Prensa speak with FI2W executive producer John Rudolph about Obama’s faith-based campaign strategy.
They discuss his unique approach, its effectiveness and the issues that matter to evangelical Latino voters—many of which have little to do with church positions on abortion or same-sex marriage.[audio:http://www.xrew.com/joceimgs/FI2W/fi2w_latinoevangelicals_0308.mp3]
Feet in Two Worlds executive producer John Rudolph speaks with Pilar Marrero of the Spanish-language newspaper La Opinión in Los Angeles and Aswini Anburajan, a former Feet in Two Worlds reporter who works for NBC News/National Journal. Both are covering the Obama campaign.[audio:http://www.xrew.com/joceimgs/FI2W/fi2w_pilar_aswini_080106.mp3]