Although the media bombards us with information through newspapers, magazines and the Internet, people from low-income or immigrant communities may lack the skills to critically analyze all this information and it's sometimes difficult for them to make their unique voices heard.
Seiya Asada-Johnson ’13 is spending the summer in New York City with Radio Rootz, a part of People’s Production House. Radio Rootz provides a program that teaches digital media arts, leadership development and media literacy curriculum to the underprivileged. His internship is supported by the Couper Fund through the Career Center.
Radio Rootz is a nonprofit organization that helps low-income and immigrant communities understand more about how to get the most out of media. The program is provided through public schools around New York City and Washington, D.C. Radio Rootz employs an “each one, teach one” teaching model in which youth that are trained in radio production eventually become trainers themselves. According to the organization’s website, “This is done through tiers of individual and group leadership development, meaningful mentoring and professional development.”
Asada-Johnson is helping Radio Rootz start its new website, which involves revising information and clips from the old site. He is also workign to organize the youth program and supporting the staff in executing its curriculum. Further, Asada-Johnson is responsible for helping Radio Rootz communicate with other nonprofits to seek collaborative efforts in community building. The internship requires Asada-Johnson to switch tasks regularly, and so he is gaining experience with several different parts of the organization.
The internship gives Asada-Johnson experience for moving forward toward his career goals while also granting him the opportunity to take part in a cause that is important to him. He explains, “I believe that the craft of self-expression is a vital practice that everyone should be able to explore.” As a creative writing major, Asada-Johnson feels passionate about articulacy through media outlets, and he wants to share this passion with others. Furthermore, he believes that digital media’s rising importance in culture necessitates a certain level of media literacy that low-income youth do not have available.
While helping out with the teaching process, Asada-Johnson is picking up some new skills himself. He has already learned more about how to use and manipulate audio and video to make it more accessible to the underprivileged. Through Radio Rootz, Asada-Johnson is also learning more about the inner-workings of a nonprofit organization, carefully observing the process of how this foundation makes a difference in people’s lives.
Aside from his internship with Radio Rootz, Asada-Johnson is working part-time at a movie theater, and in his free time he plays soccer and waffle ball in the streets of New York City.
Improving media literacy to low-income individuals does not just help them read critically and write persuasively, but this sort of training can help people make their voices heard in society. Asada-Johnson’s participation in Radio Rootz is helping bridge the media literacy gap to ensure that everyone can have a strong voice.
Seiya Asada-Johnson is a graduate of NYC Lab School in New York (N.Y.).