March 14, 2014

No Place Like Home

There are lots of ways we define where we're from. And whether we're proud of it, or ashamed of it, love it, hate it, miss it or are trying desperately to get back to it — where we're from is always a big part of who we are. This week, stories of people who are, in good ways and bad ways, coming to terms with the places they call home.

Note: The internet version of this episode contains un-beeped curse words. BEEPED VERSION.


Host Ira Glass tell the story of a city pride campaign in Calgary, Canada. He speaks with life-long Calgarian Ken Lima-Cuelho who explains how much people in the city loved the campaign — and the song at the center of it, "Hello Calgary." Except, Ira, and the song's composer, Frank Gari, have some bad news for Ken. (8 minutes)

Act One

Flight Simulation

James Spring tells the story of the "Caminata Nocturna" — a simulated illegal border crossing run by a small town in Mexico. The event was recently criticized by conservative media as a training camp for illegal immigration. Spring explains that the Caminata Noctura actually caters to middle-class and upperclass Mexicans — people who would never attempt to sneak into the US. He also explains that the whole thing was actually created with hopes to keep people in Mexico, not send them away. James did a Spanish language version of this story for Radio Ambulante. (18 minutes)

Act Two

Phone Home

Seth Freed Wessler reports on people going the opposite direction over the US/Mexico border. Each year hundreds of thousands of people are deported from the US to Mexico — tens of thousands more choose to leave on their own — and lots of them make the journey after years and years living in the states. Wessler explains how customer service call centers in Mexico are capitalizing on the fact that many of these people speak English with American accents. They're hiring such people, and using them to staff customer service lines for American companies. But, for those who've left the US, taking calls over and over from the place they used to call home, it can be a complicated experience. (11 minutes)