Just Another Inspiring Afternoon at AIM

The large classroom at Arlington Independent Media was buzzing April 19. With their teacher and Arlington native Seth Kolker, a group of 16 high school students from Central Falls, Rhode Island, paid a visit to our community media facilities as part of their “How to Change the World” trip to the nation’s capital.

The goal for “How to Change the World” is simple and bold: By the end of the year, each student will have a working theory of how they want to change the world.

At AIM they learned yet another way to make themselves heard.

Since the fall, they have been meeting student activists, lawyers, nonprofit leaders, community volunteers, and elected officials who are working to make local change happen in Rhode Island. Last week, they came to Washington, DC, for a week-long trip students planned themselves, including homestays with volunteer host families in Arlington.

Cielo, 16, describes it this way: “This trip gives us an opportunity to learn the smaller ways we can change the big problems.”

Central Falls is the smallest and lowest-income city in Rhode Island. Just a square mile, it is majority-minority and largely immigrant. Most of the students had never heard of community media or thought about it as a possible area of pursuit.

That all changed that Thursday afternoon.

They were at AIM for a joint project between my radio show, "Choose to Be Curious" (WERA, Wednesdays at 10:00 a.m. and Fridays at 2:30 p.m.) and Nathan Bynum’s TV program "Youth Can Change the World" (Comcast 69 and Verizon 38, Tuesdays at 4:00 p.m., Wednesdays at 8:00 p.m.; and Fridays at 9:30 a.m.). Nathan filmed a portion of my interviews in the audio suite and then interviewed more students in the TV studio while I met with others for the radio show. Meanwhile, AIM trainer and producer Antonio Villaronga ("Voices from the DMV," WERA, Fridays at noon) talked with still more students about how to turn their photos and video clips into a movie about their week. We closed with a tour of AIM’s state-or-the-art facilities.

The evening before, fellow Rhode Island native and radio producer Bunmi Akinnusotu ("What in the World?," WERA, Saturdays at 11:00 a.m.) had joined the students at a networking dinner and recounted her own introduction to radio and podcasting.

At the farewell dinner Sunday night, Todd, 15, shared his excitement at discovering radio. He hopes to find an internship or other opportunity to get involved with LPFM back in Providence. Abdiel, 16, single-handedly produced a celebratory slideshow to commemorate the week. Fernando, 18, and Brayan, 17, were inspired by Antonio’s experience getting into audio engineering and are looking for opportunities to learn more.

In just a few short hours, AIM opened doors and dreams for the students. The future of independent media is in good—and wonderfully diverse—hands.

You can hear lots more from all of the Central Falls students on "Choose to Be Curious," airing May 16 and 23 at 10:00 a.m. and May 18 and 25 at 2:30 p.m. on WERA-LP, 96.7 FM and streaming at wera.fm.

Youth Can Change the World: www.youtube.com/user/Arlingtonmedia/featured
What in the World?: www.facebook.com/WhatInTheWorldPodcast/
Voices from the DMV: www.facebook.com/VoicesFromTheDMV/
Choose to Be Curious: www.choosetobecurious.com
How to Change the World: www.h2ctw.org

—Lynn Borton