Stories from Braden Grant Winners






Retaining Rondon: Creole Food in a Changing World

What is Rondon? What does it mean to be Creole in Nicaragua? In a world that increasingly seems to strive for uniformity, afro-descendant Creole people on the eastern coast of Nicaragua seek to hold on to their unique culture through their food. Join us as we travel between the farm, the lagoon and the city to explore how Creole food is changing due to outside pressures.

"Why we appreciate Rondon, it is the strongest food in our gastronomy. And it comes from Africa. I have met many Africans and they cook rondon just like us. It’s a cultural thing. That makes me proud to be black. I'm proud of my Rondon." - Ms. Gay Sterling

Producer: Maria Doerr

Featuring: Connie Tinoko, Kenneth Fox, Edward (Daha) Fox, Gay Sterling

Special Thanks: Christy Hartman, Jake Warga, and Generation Anthropocene

Music: Take Dis Five, Run-Down Orchestra Bluefield Sound System 2009, Zion-O, Run-Down Orchestra, Bluefield Sound System 2009



Braden Grant Recipient Reade Levinson travels to Mongolia in hopes of witnessing a practice known as sky burial, in which the bodies of the dead are prepared for the afterlife. But as Reade learns on her journey, in Mongolia the forces of urbanization, modernization and environmental change may be threatening this sacred ritual. “The scene would be not very nice, when you look at a dog running around with someone’s hand in his mouth.”

Producer: Reade Levinson

Featuring: Ganbat Namjilsangarav, Christine Murphy, Tsogbadrakh and Tuya Banzragch, and Dr. Keith Bildstein

Special Thanks: Christy Hartman, Jake Warga, and Generation Anthropocene

Music: All ambient recorded by Reade Levinson, sound effects downloaded from FreeSound.

Image via thinkstockphotos


Innocence Lost

The stories of Korean comfort women were left untold for decades, until one woman broke the silence in 1995, 50 years after the end of World War II. Since then, several brave women have come forward with their experiences of forced prostitution for the Japanese army. This is the story of one woman, Gil Won-ok, after she was taken at the age of 13. She speaks for the women and girls whose stories were left untold, and the victims of human trafficking today.

Producer: Yegina Whang

Featuring: Gil Won-ok, Claire Schoen

Music: Sound effects and music from, all other ambient recorded by Yegina Whang


No Longer Alone: Life after prison

Carolyn and Corina survived abuse, illness, addiction, crime, and prison. What ways have they found to successfully reintegrate into the world? This is a story of how we heal ourselves against the specters of our pasts.

Producer: Chuong Phan, with help from Will Rogers

Featuring: Corina Shortall, Carolyn Crowley

Image: Meltwater (Flickr)


Sweet Potato Love

In an isolated fishing village in Papua New Guinea, a linguist sets out to write the first dictionary of the Ende language. Not long after she begins, she finds that one word was more difficult to translate: mokwang, Ende’s word for love, which also means survival.

In this story, we’ll hear how Ende women define what it means to love in Limol, Papua New Guinea.

Producers: Kate L. Lindsey, with help from Claire Schoen

Featuring: Grace Maher, Lois Sadua (translator), Musato Giwo (translator), Joshua Dobola, Robai Reend, Donai Kurupel, Manaleato Kolea, Jenny Dobola, Pingam Uziag, Loni Garaiyi, Sandra Dikai, Merol Kwe, Wagiba Geser

Writer: Kate L. Lindsey

Music: Women from Limol

Image: Grace Maher

Image caption: Kate Lindsey listening to Limol women

Production date: April 16th, 2016


A Neglected Story - Hatred in Yemen

"A Neglected Story - Hatred in Yemen" highlights the story of Shoshanna Shechter, a 30-year-old Jewish woman who escaped Yemen at age 14. She speaks of physical abuse, verbal abuse, rape, murder, and kidnapping against herself and all Jews in Yemen. More symbolically, she brings to light the reasoning as to why we never hear about this silent war against Jews occurring in Yemen – escapees fear that if they share their story, the Yemeni government will kill them. As a result, they flee the country, and never look back at their past again. This podcast aims to share this silent story, and to teach us that the anti-semitic war still exists today.

Producers: Ariela Safira and the Braden Storytelling Department

Narrated by Ariela Safira


Promised Lands And The AfroFuture

“For women, then, poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence. It forms the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first made into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action. Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought. The farthest horizons of our hopes and fears are cobbled by our poems, carved from the rock experiences of our daily lives.” - Audre Lorde

Producers: Natasha Mmonatau and the Braden Storytelling Department

Featuring: Alfalfa Brown, Queens D. Light, Ericka Huggins, narrated by Natasha Mmonatau





This story traces the origins of “We Shall Overcome” from the eighteenth century to the March on Washington, and to today. It focuses on the development of the song at the Highlander Folk School, a social justice center in Tennessee.

Producer: Beatrix Lockwood

Featuring: Candie Carawan, Clayborne Carson, Pam McMichael

Sounds: Martin Luther King, Workers in Selma, AL, March on Washington

Music: Pete Seeger, Guy Carawan, Charlie Haden & Hank Jones, The Philadelphia Brass Ensemble, Paul Robeson, Rev. Gary Davis, Azuza Pacific Gospel Choir, Zilphia Horton, Dave Van Ronk, Fats Waller, Elizabeth Cotten


Image via Wikimedia



Of Madness and Magic: Shifting the Lens to Understand the Mind

What differentiates what is labeled as mental dysfunction—mania, psychosis, seizures—from what is magic, spirit, or simply … beyond the scientific method? Mischa Shoni embarks on a journey to understand her own brain. On the path, she meets dragons, gryphons, crystal-eyed snakes … and some extraordinary people who see the mind beyond the limited lens of psychiatry.

Producer: Mischa Shoni

Featuring: Anusuya Starbear, Michelle Boyle

Special thanks: Will Rogers

Music: Man of Suit (Echos of Space, Fog Divided by 2, Quiet Mountaintop, Lost in the Forest, Trees of Mystery, Howling Wind, The Dancing Chairs, Wind Chimera, Redwoods & Skyscrapers)

Image via Wikimedia



In the past few decades, orphans in Africa have become defined by snapshots: snapshots of jutting ribs, ragged clothes, hopeless eyes. Those images have become the face of international charity work and have helped drive the idea that we should send resources to help. But there are things that can’t be captured in snapshots. In this story, Christine Chen travels to the West African country of Ghana, to talk with the people directly involved with orphan care there—the social workers, orphanage directors, families, and kids. There, she encounters narratives that put an unexpected twist on our understanding of orphanages—and push us to reconsider our assumptions about the children living inside them.

Producer: Christine Chen

Featuring: Samuel Anaglate, Helena Obeng-Asamoah, Akosua Marfo, Emmanuel, Richmond, Hannah

Special thanks: Christy Hartman

Music: A Smile for Timbuctu, Chris Zabriskie, Lee Rosevere

Image courtesy of Brandee Cooklin





Young Sudanese in the Diaspora often experience a sense of estrangement. They feel caught between the cultures of the countries they live in and Sudan. This story investigates how some of these people have used art to explore the tensions and possibilities within their fraught relationship to the place their parents call home.

Producer: Atheel Elmalik

Featuring: Safia Elhillo, Mo, Alsarah, Dar Al Naim

Music: Alsarah and The Nubatones (نوبة نوتو, Oud Solo, Its Late), Alsarah 5000 (Christina- Jodah), Blood Orange (It is what it is), The Wyld (Odyssey)

Image courtesy of Amir Mohamed






Birth is celebrated as one of the most profound and joyous moments in life. Yet in the nation of Uganda, delivering a child is an undertaking steeped in danger. The African country faces one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. Why are so many Ugandan women dying in childbirth?

In this piece, Charlotte Sagan explores the issues surrounding maternal health in the Southeastern district of Iganga. Conversations with Ugandan mothers, fathers and health care practitioners reveal intimate narratives of health, perseverance and family. The delivery story of a young woman named Miriam, in particular, illustrates the perils and joys of childbirth.

Producer: Charlotte Sagan

Featuring: Nabalumba Miriam, Joshua Moangze, Dr. Charles Waiswa, Kaina Rita, Nampina Ruth

Special thanks: Christy Hartman, John Lee, Victoria Hurst Muirhead, Jacquie Cutts, Nakasango Evelyn, Mukalu Mohamed, Margreth Mpossi

Music: Kevin MacLeodJamal WasswaMohr Productions, Jess, Eddy Kenzo


Image courtesy of Charlotte Sagan




Beyond The Rainbow

This is a tale of the other. Things are changing and the LGBTQ communities that were formerly exiled are now, slowly, being noticed and accepted by the mainstream--whether or not these communities give a hoot about "normal" acceptance. Just because we live in a more open-minded era for gays, gender-benders, and women alike (and there are many who would find this idea contentious) does not mean that the turbulent story of how drag got to the spotlight should be glossed over, nor the deeply transgressive nature of gender-bending forgotten.


Lest the contemporary “it-gets-better” ethos rewrite a subversive history forged outside the norm and by those who have always felt different, Brittany Newell have sought to record the oral history of 7 dazzling American queens and gender-artists working today. What is the trajectory from misfit to show-stopper, fringe to the spotlight, boy to beautiful woman or creature? Is drag the sparkling manifestation of an less-pretty past, the alchemy of the alienated? In documenting their experiences, inspirations, and struggles as The Other, she hopes to pay tribute to the art of transformation, as perfected to an almost mystical degree by these 7 artists, gender-rebels, and visionaries. This is a tale of the other, the queer, the blunt, and the brave. Their stories go against the grain and beyond the rainbow.

Producer: Brittany Newell

Featuring: Macy Rodman, Peaches Christ, Alexis Blair Penney, Heklina, Sissy Spastik, Mathu Andersen, & Cher Noble.

Special thanks: to all the beautiful people and amazing artists who made this possible! The Braden Grant for the Study of Oral Narrative, the Stanford Storytelling Project, Ziva Schatz, and Eric Eich

Image via Ziva Scatz (of drag queen Alaska Thunderf*ck)



I Love You, PACS Me!

In 1999, France created the French equivalent of a civil union. The PACS--an acronym for "pacte civile de solidarité"-- was intended as an alternative to marriage for gay couples, but it was open to straight couples as well. And it was used by them--perhaps paradoxically, 94% of PACS couples are straight. With the legalization of gay marriage in May 2013, gay couples who want legal protection are no longer relegated to the PACS. What does the PACS mean to the people who get it, and how is it different from marriage? How can love and commitment be expressed, and how is this changing in modern French society?

Savannah Kopp interviews PACS couples in Paris about their love stories and their PACS stories. This piece explores how a culturally specific label for a relationship comes to have meaning and how, as the cliché goes, maybe the French can teach us about love.

Producer: Savannah Kopp

Featuring: Laura Berrey, Guido Panel, Kelsy Wilson, Suzanne Newman, Sylvia Calle, Valerie Lincy, Anne Bayley, Dana Conley, Channa Galhenege, Coralie Ossant, Diane Bonifaix, Roberto Conradi

Merci à: Estelle Halevi, Wilfried Rault, Natacha Ruck, the Stanford Storytelling Project, the PACS couples, and everyone who helped me realize this project.

Music: Podington Bear, Broke for Free, Kevin MacLeod, Everybody Was In the French Resistance

Image courtesy of Savannah Kopp


Strawberry Blonde Forever

Some 76 million years ago an asteroid smashed into our planet, killing the dinosaurs and three-quarters of the Earth’s plants and animals. Once again our planet is facing a wave of extinctions, this one of man's making, and more than ever we need to know what it takes for a species to survive a cataclysm. Laura Cussen traces the improbable story of an ancient, venomous mammal of the Caribbean, and of the local people who have unearthed its secret to survival.

Producer: Laura Cussen

Featuring: César Abril, Nicolás Corona, Pedro Martínez, and Alexis Mychajliw

Special thanks: The Last Survivors, Natacha Ruck, Will Rogers, Graham Roth, Weston Gaylord, Professor Elizabeth Hadly, to all the people who have made this project possible, and to the Hispaniolan solenodon.

Music: Sunsearcher, Chris Zabriskie, Nicolás Corona 


Image via flickr



"E Ola Pono: Nana I Ke Kumu" (Live Righteously: Look to the Source)

This piece explores traditional healing in Native Hawaiian culture, examining the relevance of ancient values and traditions in today's society. Nicole details her journey throughout the Hawaiian Islands, presenting stories from Native healers who share their experiences in seeking truth, wisdom, and health. These stories delve into fundamental issues such as identity, balance, and nature, while showing how cultural complexity can be rooted in simple universal truths.

Producer: Nicole Marie Rodriguez

Featuring: Dane Silva, Puahi Chun, Kawika, Helen

Special thanks: Stanford School of Earth Sciences, Prof. Peter Vitousek, Dr. Noa Lincoln, University of Hawaii, Waianae Coast Community Health Center


Image courtesy of Nicole Marie Rodriguez



The Congress Radio Calling: Underground Broadcasts during the Quit India Movement

In Egypt, in Iran, and in Tunisia, we've heard a lot about the so-called Twitter and Facebook revolutions. But what about the radio revolution? Working from archives in New Delhi and London, Neel Thakkar resurrects the forgotten story of the Congress Radio --  the secret, underground radio station which, during the Quit India movement of 1942, helped keep the Indian nationalist movement alive during some of its darkest days.

Producer: Neel Thakkar

Featuring: Usha Mehta, C.K. Narayanswami, K.A. Abbas, Anant Kanekar, and J.N. Sahini

Special thanks: Kevin Greenbank at the Cambridge Centre for South Asia, and Kamlesh and Naina Ramani


Image via wikimedia






Reimagining the 2002 Gujarat Riots

On February 22nd, 2002 a train carrying 58 Hindu pilgrims returning from Ayodhya was attacked by a group of Muslims, resulting in the death of all of its passengers. What followed was a series of violent, retaliatory attacks against Muslims in the state and the death of over 1,000 people.

In this piece, Stanford students Claire Colberg 14’ and Ravi Patel 13’ travel to Anand, India, to understand how these riots have affected Gujarat’s youth. Despite deep-rooted challenges, their conversations with both Hindu and Muslim students reveal the future vision of communal unity shared by Gujarat’s youth.

Producers: Claire Colberg and Ravi Patel

Featuring: The students of D.Z. Patel High School, D.N High School, the Hanifa School, and the Chaortar Institute of Technology - Changa.

Special Thanks: Andrew Todhunter, Kiran Patel, and all the students who shared their stories with us in Gujarat.

Image courtesy of Claire Colberg



Improv in the Real World

There’s something special about theatrical improvisation.  There’s a trust, a confidence, and a sense of risk that can help individuals grow and bring groups together.  But what happens when you graduate and your source of improv (mainly, your college improv group) goes away?

In this piece, Mona Thompson, Stanford class of 2013, explores the concept of improvisation in the “real world.”  Would it be possible to create a whole life centered around improv?  And if so, would it be meaningful?

Producer: Mona Thompson

Featuring: William Hall, Dr. Nika Quirk, & Patricia Ryan Madson

Special Thanks: Charlie Mintz, John Lee, and everyone at Stanford Storytelling Project

Image via Flickr




Travel: An Australian Anthem

What makes young Australians such eager globe-trotters? Aliza Gazek and Kelly Vicars swung on their packs and set off “down under” to find out. The travelers they met along the way shared stories of their adventures and offered surprising insight into Australia’s history as a nation, providing a trail of clues to why it’s so easy to find an Aussie backpacker in any hostel in the world.


Producers: Aliza Gazek and Kelly Vicars

Featuring: John Grant, Prashan Paramanathan, Ashley Carruthers, Theo Ell, Mel Ronca, Sandra Ronca, Aileen “Nan” Grant

Special Thanks: Andrew Todhunter and Jeanne Snider for their guidance, our generous Aussie hosts, and everyone else who shared their stories: Alex Dumbrell, Murray and Rosie Fisher, Robin Grant, and Paul Rowley.

Music: Rusted Root, Men at Work, Grizzly Bear, Norah Jones,

Sydney Children's Choir, Slightly Stoopid, River Ran, Enya, Lucius


Image via flickr



The Blind Leading the Blind

Understanding someone who experiences the world differently than you can be hard. In fact, it can be downright scary.


In this piece, Austin Meyer, a senior from Stanford University, visits the Earle Baum Center for People With Vision Loss to tell his story of what it's like to navigate the intimidating space between two opposite ways of experiencing the world... one with vision and one without.


Producer: Austin Meyer

Featuring: Denise Vancil, Scott Murray, and Sharon Brown

Special thanks: Dan Needham and The Earle Baum Center


Image via flickr




Rachel Kelley interviewed over two dozen activists, artists, and their friends as part of her effort to capture an oral history of Greenlands, an intentional community in Nashville, Tennessee. Their reflections ranged from the ethics of air conditioning to Occupy antics to the moral quandaries of gentrification. Here is a snapshot of Rachel's experience and some of the Greenlanders' stories.


Producer: Rachel Kelley


Featuring: Karl Meyer, DJ Hudson, Kate Savage, Tristan Call, Jena Robinson, Matt Christy, Keith Caldwell, Trevor Bradshaw, Megan Gilbreth, Rachel Kelley, and the Greenlands community


Special thanks: community members and friends of Nashville Greenlands, Charlie Mintz


Music links: "Bluegrass Banjo," "Insomnie", "Slide Cowboy,"  "Cerises," "Quasi Motion," "Hip-Hop 4," "La Toupie,” "Rae & Christian Remix dub 'Testify'," "We Shall Overcome,” Broke for Free


Image courtesy of Matt Christy