Chandra Touch, bottom row and fourth from the left, Captain of Plymouth State University's spirit squad.
We all do things our parents wouldn't approve of. For Chandra Touch, one of those things was the most normal activity an American girl can do: be a cheerleader. Chandra's mom grew up in Cambodia, so cheerleading seemed like a risque activity to her. Chandra turned the mic on her mom and on herself to gain some perspective.
Podcast: Download (Duration: 5:41 — 2.6MB)
This piece was produced for Blunt Youth Radio in Portland, Maine (my radio alma mater! woot woot!) with help from Youth Radio in California. More about Blunt: High school age youth from the Portland area, both free and incarcerated, staff a live call-in talk radio show. It is almost entirely youth-produced, from guest booking to engineering to production on reports, like this one that Chandra made.
Chandra is currently a third year student at Plymouth State University. She is a Social Work major with a minor in Psychology. I snagged her through email, since class has now started and everyone is busybusybusy.
You made this piece two years ago. How has it come back to "haunt" you?
Recently I was volunteering at MIT for the Terrascope Youth Radio Program and was searching for this particular piece online. I came across multiple websites that had featured my piece and it had listeners post comments. I read the comments and realized that I was not alone. My piece had reached out to many listeners who understood and could relate to the culture clash that my mother and I had. As a young Asian American I remind myself everyday that although I was brought up a bit different from most of my friends; I am still the one who lives my life.
Have these issues with your mom, her being skeptical of your choice, remained as you've gone to college?
Of course it has, my mother is a hard headed person, as am I. She still reminds me how much life would be easier at home. Especially this year because I had just got my own off-campus apartment and this summer my income wasn't so great so I came to school with nothing and am stressing about how I will pay for $948 for books this semester.
Is she coping with everything on her own?
She has always been an independent woman but like every person she needs support and someone to tell her that everything is going to be OK. She has had her occasional break downs and cries for me to come back and help her and offers me multiple scenarios to the better college life but she is a strong woman and has always been capable of being on her own. She has been since she was sixteen.
Do you still cheerlead?
Yes, I do. I was Captain last season and was also the Head Coach for New Found Regional High School Varsity Cheerleading Team but here in New Hampshire they call cheering "Spirit."
How has talking about yourself and your family in the media changed how you look at yourself and your family?
This piece has definitely been a reflection piece of my life past, present, and future. It makes me think back to when I was just a senior in high school uncertain of my future as a first generation Asian American. Do I stay home and help out the family or do I venture out of my four walls and leave what I know? I look back and listen to this piece and I know through all the disagreements and the stress that I have caused my mother by leaving her, she is proud of me not matter what.
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I grabbed that marching band music from freesound.org, a pretty nifty website for at-home-producers. It was recorded by user daveincamas.