“WHEN YOU LIVE in a foreign country, your friends become your family. You eat with them on Sundays… ask them to borrow money. In just a short while, I’m going to lose part of my extended family. Micaela… is about to abandon me.”
So begins “Todos Vuelven” (Everyone Goes Back), one of the stories on one of my newest favorite websites, Radio Ambulante. In this story, Peruvian-born Gabriela Wiener tells of her close friend Micaela who, for economic reasons, will soon leave Barcelona, where they both live, to return to her native Peru after a ten-year stay.
Radio Ambulante is a radio program that seeks to give voice to Spanish speakers from all over the world, much the same way as public radio broadcasts like This American Life profile individuals in the English-speaking world. The main difference is, these programs are in Spanish. Rather than giving a voiceover to words in a foreign language, the stories are told in their original — accents, slang, and all — with a style that will be very familiar to listeners of NPR in the United States.
If you already speak Spanish, the stories are a look into what’s happening in Latin America, and to Latin Americans, wherever they may be. If you’re still working on your Spanish, I urge you to listen and listen again to work on your comprehension and think about what happens when people tell their own stories, as opposed to having them told by reporters and translated into English.
The project participants and producers are from all over Latin America and the US, and include writers with connections to NPR and radio production. The project is still in its incipient stages and has a Kickstarter fundraising campaign underway if you’d like to contribute. Radio Ambulante is currently available as a podcast, but in the future they plan to distribute the stories to radio stations throughout the US and Latin America. You can follow them on Twitter at @radioambulante.