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VOA Connect (04/06/2018) In the Arctic & On the Plains


Episode 12
[AIR DATE: 04 06 2018]


Far From Home

He went through this harrowing of first escaping journey of first escaping from China to Hong Kong, ending up in the Mississippi.
((Animation Transition)

Staying Put

If you do not have the Internet, if you do not have the broadband, these young people are going to move away.
((Animation Transition))

Living With Cats
We chose the great cats to be our movie stars which is, kind of, insane. I mean you are dealing with the apex predators here.
((Open Animation))


((Banner: Struggling Communities))
((Pop Up Banner:

In 1950, 70% of the world’s population lived in small towns and the countryside

Today, less than half does, leaving some feeling left behind

((Banner: In The Arctic))

((Reporter: Henry Ridgwell))

((Camera: Ricardo Marquina Montana))
((Adapted by: Zdenko Novacki))

((Map: Russia / Sovetskiy / Vorkuta))
The area started to die off at the end of the 1990s. I can’t tell you the exact year, but at the end of the 90s, the mine got closed. It was the start of the optimization. It was the case everywhere in Vorkuta. I think it was even the case in all of Russia.

The village has changed a lot. When I was born and was small, the village was full of life. There were no empty apartments. There were not enough kindergartens. The school was full. There was a lot of fun. There were many kids and adults, and the mine was working. The village was full of life. We had many stores. We actually didn’t even go to the city. We had everything here.
It’s a mining city. So, after the mines closed, people started to leave together with their families. Today, the population shrank by a factor of three. Our goal in the near future is obviously condensing the city.

Since 2014, there have been attempts to close the village, but they were not successful. There are attempts to move people. There are only three families living in my building. I am the only one living in my block. There are 80 apartments in the building, and that’s the case all over our village. What can I say? The village is dying. I’d even say it’s dead now. There are plans to move everyone to the city, but I don’t know what will happen next. I guess coal will be mined here. ((NADEZHDA KOZHEVNIKOVA, CLOTHING STORE OWNER))

As far as I understand, we have enough coal for another 50 years. There is a demand for coal. So, why are mines are not being set up? None are being developed. Nothing is being done.

Coal will be needed for a very long time, and we have a lot of it here, great amounts. So, I think it will be mined one way or another for a very long time. New mines will open, or old ones will be modernized. I look to the future with optimism, because energy sources and coal mean life. It will always be needed, and I am optimistic.

((Banner: On The Plains))

((Reporter/Camera: Deepak Dobhal))
((Adapted by: Philip Alexiou))
((Map: United States / Illinois / Mount Carroll))

((Roger Brashaw, Retired factory worker))
A lot of elderly people now are around and you don't see many young kids. They are just, they are all gone. There’s just not much here for them to do.

Back in the 60s and late 70s, there were shoe stores. There were Coast to Coast stores. There were hardware stores. There were barber shops. There were restaurants.

((Banner: Mount Carroll was buoyed by factories, a nearby army depot, a local high school and college))
The store here, I used to come in here when I was a young boy. My parents used to bring me here to get my haircut. And when you’d walk in the door, there would be 10 to 13 people sitting in the chair, all talking about businesses that happened during the day and waiting in line to get a haircut.

((Banner: Mount Carroll lost a quarter of its population since 1970))
Today, the store is closed and the people are gone.
I feel real sad, yeah, real sad that all the shops are gone and buildings are empty. You just don’t, it just feels like it’s a ghost town now.
I still like it, yeah. I like the small towns. Yeah, I’ll be here until I’m gone.

((Banner: A Path to Revival))
((Reporter/Camera: Deepak Dobhal))

((Adapted by: Martin Secrest / Philip Alexiou))

((Map: United States / Nebraska / Stapleton))
((Banner: 23 million rural Americans lack broadband internet))

((Kathy Starr, Co-owner, Bull Barn Genetics))
People who live in the cities where they can access the fiber optics and the faster Internet need to count their blessings, because we struggle all the time.
((Roberta Starr, Co-owner, Bull Barn Genetics))
I live on Cedar Top Ranch, which is about 27 miles (43km) to the nearest town. We have nine kids. We don’t know what makes the signal, kind of, come and go because there’s days that we can just easily access it and other days we can’t.
((NATS Ashley Starr))
((Roberta Starr))

Last year, it really affected one of my daughters that they had to do most of their homework on their computer. She had to get back to Arnold so that she had the Internet access. Arnold is 50 miles (80km) away.
((Josh Flint, Technician, Great Plains Communications))
A lot of kids that are out here in the middle of nowhere, we’re laying fiber optics to provide high speed Internet voice to rural customers. So, with the capabilities of high speed Internet, you know, there’s a huge learning advantage.
((Bryan Rooney, Technician, Great Plains Communications))
Oh, it can change a lot of things and the possibilities are endless and it’s great to be a part of that.
((Voice of Kathy Starr, Co-owner, Bull Barn Genetics))
Probably 10 days ago, the crews were out laying down fiber optics. We’d been seeing them laying line for a couple of weeks, and so we were excited to see them come in here. The rural areas need to be connected to the world just like everyone else.
((Kathy Starr, Co-owner, Bull Barn Genetics))
I know my mother-in-law had a dishwasher installed, waiting for electricity. And this was in the (19)40s. So, that’s what it meant to them and it would do the same thing for us. The Internet would help us tremendously.
((Locator: Tryon, Nebraska))
((Voice of John Bryant, McPherson County Commissioner))

There used to be 12 communities in this county. In 1927, there was 25 hundred people in this county. We’ve dried up now to 530 some people.
((John Bryant, McPherson County Commissioner))
If you do not have the Internet, if you do not have the broadband, these young people are going to move away. Our population will dwindle down to nothing but a few big ranchers, and we need these young people.

Coming up….
Down In Mississippi
We very used to seeing people on the street. Like, “Oh, it’s another Asian American person. Cool.” Like, you're not really fazed by it.



((Banner: Preserving Communities))


((Banner: Old Believers))
((Reporter: Natasha Mozgovaya))
((Camera: Alexander Bergan))
((Adapted by: Martin Secrest / Philip Alexiou))

((Map: Southern Alaska / Kenai Peninsula))

It was all desert. We started all of it. And then the Americans started coming over. They like it here. It’s quiet, very few people, not many cars.
((BANNER: Mother Irina is an Old Believer. Old Believers split from the Russian Orthodox Church in the 17th century.))

((BANNER: Old Believers fled communism in Russia and established a village in southern Alaska.))
((MOTHER IRINA FEFELOVA, Priest’s Widow in Russian))

With the arrival of Communism, at first it was fine, but then they just started coming to the huts and taking everything. Our people used to have big families, the same as we do now, but you need to feed the kids. They would just come and take everything.
((BANNER: Nikolaevsk’s population is about 300. Men make a living fishing or boat building.))

We’ve built over 100 boats and now the boats are barely worn out. They stay functional. Instead of ordering new ones, people just sell them on. But we still build some.
((BANNER: Women wear traditional Russian dresses they sew themselves.))

We are here for 40 years. Maybe some tourists that visit think that we have weird clothes, but the local people, they know us.
((BANNER: Old Believers speak Russian, and pray in Old Church Slavonic. The younger generation prefers English.))

Our kids speak Russian well. We spoke good Russian in the family, but their kids do not speak Russian. They come and can’t tell me what they need. It’s hard.
((BANNER: The Old Believers live in harmony with Alaska’s Russian Orthodox Church representatives.))
((FATHER MICHAEL OLEKSA, Russian Orthodox Priest))

Why make an issue over things that have nothing to do with doctrine or morality? These were ritual differences that, for the majority, had very little significance, but for them it was very important.
((BANNER: Café Samovar is a local tourist attraction.))
((Voice of NINA FEFELOV, Café Owner))

When they made a sewer here in 2002, I opened the café and the tourists can have borscht, piroshky, pelmeni and Russian tea.
((BANNER: Nina Fefelov goes to church everyday))
((NINA FEFELOV, Café Owner))

I can stand there with my husband. It’s a 100 percent happiness. I am praying with him. This is my happiness in life.

((Banner: In the Delta))

((Reporter: Ramon Taylor))
((Camera: Ye Yuan))
((Adapted by: Martin Secrest))
((MAP: United States / Mississippi / Delta region))
((Photos / Courtesy of Emanuel Hahn))

((Banner: Two Asia-American photographers from New York traveled to the Mississippi Delta to document Asians in the Deep South))

I think sometimes it's hard when you're not just a minority, but you're like really, like two percent of the entire state. They were always, kind of, in this interesting third position.
((Photos / Courtesy of Emanuel Hahn))

I spoke to Emanuel at his apartment in Brooklyn Heights and was like, I've always wanted to shoot southern landscapes, like, what kind of theme can we, kind of, wrap this around? And so he was like, oh, why not Asians in the deep, rural south.
((Photos / Courtesy of Emanuel Hahn))

One of the narratives that I was very, kind of, familiar with was the model minority myth, and that is, you know, that Asian Americans, kind of, overachieve and that's, kind of, what we’re typecast as.
((Photos / Courtesy of Emanuel Hahn))
What we were able to see was that a lot of people in the community along the Delta made enormous contributions economically in the region, whether it be opening grocery

((Photo / Courtesy of Emanuel Hahn))
stores or whether it be being a NASA engineer. And those are the types of stories that we don't typically hear, and those narratives aren't really present.
((Photos / Courtesy of Emanuel Hahn))

For Steve Yee particularly, he went through this harrowing journey of first escaping from China to Hong Kong, and then through Hong Kong, ending up in the Mississippi. And one of the stories that he told us was of just discrimination, just a lot of football guys picking on him and him going to the principal to complain about it, and the principal telling him to man up and basically stand up for himself. And I think for him he was, kind of, fortunate to find art as, kind of, a way to channel his energies.

((Photos / Courtesy of Andrew Kung))


I think in large urban cities, we're very used to seeing people on the street. Like, “Oh, it’s another Asian American person. Cool.” Like, you're not really fazed by it. But I think when you're in the South, especially along the Mississippi Delta and more of those rural pockets, whenever you see another Asian, you're like, “Wow, like, our families probably have some sort of tie and we're probably united on some type of front.”
Some of the families you spoke with are elderly or in their later years. If you didn’t tell the story, it’s possible that no one would hear it outside of the immediate families that exist in their own lives. Why is it important for you guys to tell those stories?
((Photos / Courtesy of Emanuel Hahn))

A lot of the younger generation are moving outside of the Mississippi Delta as they seek better opportunities. There's just a handful of these older generations that are left, and once they pass on, it is possible that there might not be that many Chinese Americans left in that area. And I think it's so important to capture that before we lose it.


((Banner: A Small Community Lost))
((Map: United States / New York / New York))

My maternal grandfather, Rocco Galasso, was a superintendent in an apartment building for probably 18 years of his life. And at some point, he bought the building, and so we grew up there.
He would say to me, “Nicholo, we’re going for a walk.” And I always wanted to go with grandpa.
And he would get a pastrami sandwich the size of my head, and he would buy me a hotdog, and he would say, “Don’t you tell anybody. We just go for a good walk, right? You want another hot dog?”
And in this building, every apartment was filled with an aunt or an uncle. And every Sunday, Rocco cooked. So, all of his family would show up for dinner, all 30, 40 of us.
And one Sunday at dinner, Rocco made it clear to us that we were going to all have to move. That the city has condemned all of these buildings to build these brand new apartments. And so we had, I think, eight months to a year to relocate.
And then one day, my mom and dad and my brother Michael and I, went to Rocco’s apartment for the Sunday meal. Now, we no longer lived on the first floor, and everybody else was gone. It was abandoned, except for that one apartment.
We had our meal, and at some point Rocco said to me and my brother, “Let’s go downstairs and put some coal in the burner.” And we got down to the coal pile and instead of grabbing the shovel, he said, “Pick up as much coal as you can and put it into your pocket.”
So, we stuffed our overcoat with coal, and our jean pockets with coal, and we went to the backyard. And there’s one light on and all the other apartments are dark.
And he takes a piece of coal out of his pocket and he throws it through one of the windows, and tears are streaming down his face, and he says, “Come on! You break the windows with me.” So, my brother and I just started throwing. We thought it was fun at the time.
And we’re smashing windows and my mom and Aunt Lucy stick their heads out and go, “What are you doing, Pops? Stop it! Stop it!”
But we didn’t stop until all the windows were broken, except for his apartment.
At first my reaction was, they took his building away, that’s what I thought it was about. But I realized much later, it was about the destruction of the family, which I think he knew.
A month later, he had to leave‚ and never again were we ever together on a Sunday in that way.

Coming up….
Feeding the Birds
Gardening’s the first. Backyard bird feeding second. And they pretty much blend into each other.



((Banner: Feathered and Furry Communities))

((Executive Producer: Marsha James))
((Camera: Kaveh Rezaei))
((Map: United States / California / Shambala Preserve))
((Tippi Hedren, Actress, Model, Animal Rights Activist))

You know, I never, ever dreamed that I would become an actress. Never, never occurred to me. Never occurred to me that that would happen to me. So, I started doing commercials and there was one that was running very often. It was a storyline. So, then I received a phone call saying, “Are you the girl in the seagull commercial?” And I said, “Yes, why?” He said, “Well, there’s someone who is interested in you and would like to meet with you.” And that was (film director) Alfred Hitchcock. I was asked to go to Chasen’s, a restaurant, with Mr. and Mrs. Hitchcock and (talent agent) Lew Wasserman. And there was this very beautifully wrapped package. I opened the box and it was a gold and seed pearl pin of three birds in flight. And I looked at it and I looked at Mr. Hitchcock and Mrs. Hitchcock. And Hitch said, “We want you to play Melanie Daniels in The Birds.
Well, I’ll tell you I couldn’t have been more surprised or shocked about anything because I hadn’t had an acting background. I wasn’t known in Hollywood. I mean, I didn’t know whether to get up and run around the restaurant. I didn’t know what to do.
All of this that I have developed and preserved at the Shambala Preserve has just been a dream that came true.
I was married to a man who was a producer. He wanted to do a film about the animals in the wild. We chose the great cats to be our movie stars, which is, kind of, insane. I mean you are dealing with apex predators here. And we went to South Africa and I did two films there and I had the opportunity to go out into the veld and see the animals running free, and how absolutely thrilling it was to find one. And that is how the Shambala Preserve eventually came into being. We knew about this piece of property and it was owned by an animal trainer and he was the one who brought us the little lions. And so we called him and said, “Can we board the little lions with you?” And he said, “Sure.” Eventually, we had so many animals that we were bringing out here that the board bill was more than our mortgage, so we bought the place. I was, kind of, wondering why doesn’t our government have laws against breeding a predator and selling it to anyone who has the money. So, I put together a bill, took it to my own Congressman Buck McKeon, and the bill passed unanimously in the House and Senate and it’s made a huge difference.
I like being alone. I have a lot of wonderful memories to think about. I have future plans to make and I am a rather content woman.


((Banner: Speaking of The Birds))

((Reporter: Faiza Elmasry))
((Camera: Mike Burke))
((Adapted by: Martin Secrest))

((Map: United States / Virginia / Arlington))

There’s a lot of reasons why people feed, but I think one of the most important reasons is that it’s a very, very peaceful, emotional experience. You put the food out there. You spend time on your deck, in the nice weather. In the winter, you’re indoors watching the birds from the perspective of outdoors in the winter, and you never know what’s going to show up. So, there’s always activity. Most of the yards around here can easily get 30 different species of birds in their backyard.
((Reporter: I didn’t know that it’s the second largest hobby in America.))
Yes, 52 million people. Gardening’s the first. Backyard bird feeding second. And they pretty much blend into each other.
((SUMNER ASKIN, Wild Bird Hobbyist))
It’s a lot of fun, just because you see the individuality of each of them. Like the little invasive species around here, like the house sparrow and the European starling. The catbird that we saw will eventually migrate back south, more towards Florida and the islands and stuff. Just like the hummingbird, the robins will leave too. But things like the blue jays, cardinals, gold finches, woodpeckers -- they’re here all year.
((Reporter: You mentioned about young families moving in and starting the hobby. So, we can say now that the age range for….??))
Anywhere from I’d say the 20s to 80 year-olds, all in between. We spend a lot of time too also with the schools, because a lot of school teachers have environmental programs, and they’ve set up habitats in their schools, to teach the young kids about the birds, the species, the nesting, and how to attract them. It’s so important to just spend that time in nature, being outdoors, listening to the birds, getting up in the morning. If you just look up, you’ll see tremendous amounts of things.

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