Podcast from Literacy Achieves Sees America through Immigrants’ Eyes

Story by Peter McKee. Photos courtesy of Literacy Achieves.

What do you hope for?

And what are the circumstances and conditions that you believe will bring that hope to fruition? Whether nearly tangible or seemingly a pipe dream, there is probably no more uniquely human action than hoping. Everyone hopes and dreams for a future or a reality better than their present circumstances. 

Dionne Kirby, CEO of Literacy Achieves.

America is a beacon of hope for a better life for millions of people around the world. It is their stories that are captured on the new podcast, When I Got Here: Untold Immigrants’ Stories, from local nonprofit, Literacy Achieves.

In our modern digital world, it can be easy to perceive immigration only through news outlets and websites. Real stories of immigrants that have made the momentous change of moving to a new country often become lost in discussions of policy and national interests. 

Immigrants travel to the United States for many reasons. Whether motivated by a sense of betrayal from their own country, the search for freedom from oppression or a promise of greater economic opportunity, they look to the United States with hope. When I Got Here explores the reasons individuals immigrated to America, their driving hope to thrive and how they took advantage of the country’s opportunities. 

Byron Harris, longtime Dallas journalist and host of When I Got Here: Untold Immigrant Stories.

Hosted by longtime Dallas journalist, former WFAA reporter and winner of two Peabody Awards, Byron Harris, each episode of When I Got Here delves into an immigrant’s personal story. Through their stories and Harris’s interviewing, writing and narration, the podcast intends to put a human face on immigration. Original theme music for the podcast is composed by John Wesley Gibson, composer-in-residence for the Dallas Winds. Literacy Achieves CEO, Dionne Kirby opens and closes each episode with a message to the listeners about the nonprofit’s mission. 

Literacy Achieves, the nonprofit that hosts When I Got Here, has pride in being a linguistic and cultural bridge to help individuals and families find homes and a way of life in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Acknowledging that language is often a major barrier to success, Literacy Achieves empowers immigrant and refugee families through award-winning adult English literacy and early childhood education programs. 

John Wesley Gibson, When I Got Here: Untold Immigrant Stories Music Composer.

By equipping non-English speaking adults and their young children with English literacy and important life skills, Literacy Achieves aims to promote self-sufficiency and the overall well-being of their clients and the greater community. The immigrants they work with commonly express gratitude and are very engaged in the program, knowing full well the difficulties and challenges that lay ahead in a new country. 

Frank Lloyd – retired Associate Dean of the SMU Cox School of Business and co-founder of the When I Got Here podcast – sees his work at Literacy Achieves, and with the podcast specifically, as a way to give back to the people who showed him kindness while he was traveling and living in other countries. He always felt blessed to have “cultural interpreters” and friends while staying in foreign countries and hopes to emulate that hospitality to immigrants in the Dallas area. 

To hear these fascinating and eye-opening stories told by a local legend, visit the podcast website. In addition to podcast episodes, there are more individuals’ stories available to read on the website as well as a story submission form for those who wish to share their or a loved one’s stories. When I Got Here: Untold Immigrants’ Stories is also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify. Visit the Literacy Achieves website for more information on the podcast and volunteer opportunities like teaching English within Dallas’ growing international community.