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‘Feeding Our Past, Nourishing Our Future’: A Student Podcast


For their summer research project Emnet Sisay ’22 and Mckela Kanu ’22 decided to create a podcast rather than a paper so their work would be more accessible. That’s how they discovered how hard it is to create a podcast, even with support.

But it was worth it.

They produced a 10-part series about food, land, identity, and indigenous people. It’s research they are proud to share. Feeding our Past, Nourishing Our Future, A Decolonization Podcast is available through a website they created.                                       

podcast cover art
Cover art for podcast. Image by Urbana Anam ’21.

“Our goal with this project was to do something more collaborative, where not only are we educating folks in our own circle of Hamilton, but also the people we interview can possibly use it for educational purposes to enhance their communities as well,” Sisay said.

Their diverse lineup of participants began with Laticia McNaughton, Mohawk Nation, Wolf Clan, and a doctoral candidate in American studies who researches indigenous food sovereignty. The final guest was Evan Saura Ramsey, a Filipino-American and candidate for a master’s of public policy at Harvard Kennedy School and master’s of business administration at MIT Sloan. Ramsey’s interest is rethinking our approach to food, agriculture, and international development.

“It's just an amazing, wide array of people. And I think that diversity really adds to the substance of what we're talking about, because we talk about food and health, not only within the realm of one population, but we're able to really apply it to multiple ethnic groups and cultural groups. And I think that is something that's really special,” Sisay observed.

The project was personal and intellectual for her and for Kanu, who both are first-generation Black Americans. Sisay’s family comes from Ethiopia and Kanu’s from Sierra Leone. For Kanu, the conversation with Ramsey hit close to home because they talked about being part of a diaspora.

“I think the big thing that I learned, part of my struggle that I endured going through this project, is how to reconnect to a culture that is lost to you, or that you haven't been a part of your entire life. Is it possible to reconnect to that part of your history?” Kanu asked.

Hamilton’s Levitt Center funded the summer research. Their advisor, Priya Chandrasekaran, visiting assistant professor of environmental studies, gave them the idea of doing a podcast, and Kanu and Sisay had help on the podcast from instructional designers Sacharja Cunningham and Doug Higgins. Glynis Asu, research librarian and peer learning and instruction coordinator, also helped the student researchers.

Kanu’s best academic experiences have been the courses she’s taken that have changed her perspective. “And I think this project definitely is at the top in that it's really altered the way that I think about a lot of things about myself and the world, and that's something that I really enjoy, and that I really like, because I'm still learning, and I think learning from other people is one of the best forms of learning that you can have,” she said. 

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