Youth Radio and Boyle Heights Beat
by ZOLA CERVANTES
Produced by Erika Aguilar
Featured on All Things Considered, NPR
This story is an example of how sharing ourselves via audio can inspire and motivate and fill the lonely spaces among strangers.
I met Zola Cervantes in early 2017 through Youth Radio. She was a reporter for the community newspaper and website Boyle Heights Beat. It's a powerhouse of teenage journalists (led by adult editors) so well connected and trusted by the Boyle Heights community they report on that professional journalists in Los Angeles are envious of the students' leads!
Zola was telling her editor at Boyle Heights Beat about the college admissions essay she was writing. It was about the immigration jail visits Zola made when she was 10 or 11 years old to see her dad before he was deported to Tijuana, a city he had never lived in before or had family there. She talked about the weekend visits she and her brother and mother make, and how she pulls all-nighters on Sunday to do homework before returning to school on Monday. Zola talked about how her family talks about moving to Mexico or Spain so they can be together but she doesn't think it'll work out for her because she'll soon be attending college, then work and adult life and then ...
"Zola, you have to write that story," her editor said.
She got to work writing and her editor picked up the phone to pitch the story to Youth Radio, a youth media production group based in Oakland that helps teens produce news stories for NPR, the New York Times, and many, many national media outlets. And that's how I got involved.
I had so much fun helping Zola produce her audio story for NPR, which aired nationally April 26th ! We storyboarded and workshopped her focus; I taught her how to use a microphone and an audio recorder; we logged and logged, and wrote and wrote! We even toured the NPR studios in Culver City while we recorded in studio.
A couple of my favorite lines in her story are these:
"That's my I call him Apá. He calls us his 'shorties' or 'mis enanos.' I get emocionada when I see him, like excited but emotional at the same time."
Tell your story. Shout it. Share it, and be unafraid.
Read Zola's story on Youth Radio and Boyle Heights Beat. Links below.