A tale of two Nepali journalists who podcast in New York to help immigrants

Sunday, May 25, 2018 was when we first launched the weekly audiovisual podcast At the End of the Day, a weekly career guide to newly arriving young immigrants in the United States.

On this occasion of having completed two years, we thought, is a good time to share some key moments from our podcasting journey.

So, how it all began?

As a married couple, we moved to the US in 2014. We both had a media background in Nepal. Dipika was working for BBC Media Action and Anuz for News 24 Television.

Moving to the US was a great challenge in terms of career transition. And we realised, this is exactly what most of the new immigrants go through. Immigrant youth, even those with strong professional backgrounds back home, have a hard time not knowing how to transition their career in this new home. The same was the situation with us.

We had so many questions: how we expand our exposure, how we start networking with professionals here, who could potentially guide us, whom we reach out to, what we could do to land the foot in the right door.

And then we realised, if we could learn and share, the personal experiences of immigrant professionals in the US who did go through similar challenges, but then, with their sheer determination, persistence, and hard work, were eventually able to make their career goals come true! So, with this thought in mind, we planned to start a weekly podcast!

Initial days

In the initial days, we did not have guests to interview. So, we began sharing our own career-related learning, as new immigrants.

Because we were doing an audio-and-video podcast, we needed a bright and wide space to film our recordings. In New York City, most of the new immigrants share rooms in an apartment and most of the apartments have tiny rooms in them. So, because of the lack of space, we recorded the first few episodes of our podcast in a public park in our neighbourhood in Queens. Obviously, parks are recreational spots, so during the days, the park would be extremely crowded and would be noisy. So, what did we do?

Thank god, summer had just started, so we were able to go to the park early in the morning around 5 and manage to finish our recording just by the time people would start showing up for their morning exercise.

Around the same time, Anuz had just graduated from the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism. He was interning in different media houses. And, he was doing a part-time job in nightshift. While Dipika was working full time and was doing her graduate programme at Baruch College.

Both of us had extremely busy schedules throughout the week. But, we were enjoying it. As we were keeping ourselves busy, we were also gradually expanding our professional networks. Through our new connections, and by directly reaching out to ‘prospective guests for the podcast’ on social media, we started inviting guests to our show.

However, in no way was it logical to be inviting guests early morning in that park, so we rather began requesting them if they knew of a location where we could interview them. Personally, we felt awkward requesting them to see if we could visit them to interview—actually, we should have invited them to a designated recording location!

But then magic happened!

The English-Speaking Union (ESU) in NYC runs various professional skill-building classes aimed at guiding recently arrived immigrants in the US. Dipika used to be a student there. We approached the organisation, and they kindly offered our collaboration proposal and offered us their space to record the podcast. Had it not been so, we would have really struggled to find a place to interview guests in the show.

What have we been doing in the podcast?

The podcast is targeted towards the newly arriving young immigrants in the US. We have been profiling inspiring professionals from diverse immigrant communities about their career-transition process after their migration to the US.

The plan, initially, was to end the first season of this podcast with its 100th episode. But then, things went wrong.

From the second weekend of March this year, the coronavirus pandemic hit the US severely, to the extent that most of the people here were confined to work from home and avoid any form of social gathering.

The situation grew chaotic, stressful, and most of us were fearful of the pandemic. In light of what was going on, we shifted the focus of our podcast from ‘stories about career-transition’ to ‘stories related to the pandemic’.

What we did was digging positive stories of individuals and families, stories that would give our audience hope, moral support, and a sense of unity amidst this global crisis. One of the stories we covered was a travelogue based on Anuz’s travel around Queens with a Nepali volunteer who was visiting door to door to provide medicine, groceries, and masks to individuals and families affected by the pandemic.

Coming this far, we have been able to feature highly inspiring stories of 98 immigrant individuals from nearly 40 different countries, including from China, Nepal, Bangladesh, Taiwan, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Russia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Belarus, the Philippines, Guinea, Peru, Jamaica, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Brazil, Morocco, Burkina Faso, Australia, Ghana, Cuba, Yemen, and Venezuela.

Our guests in the podcast are from different professions and from varying levels of professional success, to name a few – attorneys, high-education professionals, international nonprofit executives, researchers, make-up artists, political leaders, journalists, job advisors, small business owners, digital content producers, school teachers, fitness trainers, software developers, academicians, multimedia storytellers, human rights activists, the United Nations professionals, musicians, designers, travel guides, service providers in hospitality industries, and accountants.

Few lines for aspiring podcasters

If you want to start podcasting, make sure you focus on specific topics so that your audience know what to expect from your podcast. Make sure you follow the schedule and make it consistent. For instance, if your podcast is weekly, release it on a specific day. In our case, our podcast comes out every Sunday.

Try to make it shorter as you want to respect your audience’s time. We generally make it below 20 minutes. Last, but not the least, no one is stopping you from podcasting, so grab that microphone, start podcasting!

Thapa occasionally reports for Onlinekhabar.

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