Meet Two Contestants from NPR’S Podcast Challenge

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National Public Radio is calling pupils from throughout the country to produce a podcast, then compete for a chance to win a grand prize and have their work broadcast on NPR. This year, two LRHS students participated; here is their story. (Photo courtesy of Lauren Taylor)

The National Public Radio (NPR) is a nonprofit media company that was created with the goal of educating the public. Every day, NPR engages millions of individuals on the radio, on the internet, and in person to discuss current events and what constitutes to be human.

The National Public Radio hosts an annual podcast challenge to help students around the country grow and learn from their personal stories and experiences. 

Since the program’s inception five years ago, the network has heard from over 40,000 students from all over the country, as well as podcasters with a wide range of cultures, experiences, and stories to share.

This was such a success that podcasting became part of the curriculum at several schools and states, such as Illinois , with students submitting high-quality submissions, being named finalists, and earning honorable mentions year after year.

This year’s Student Podcast Challenge will begin on January 6, 2023 and end on April 28, 2023. Similar to previous years, judges will select winners in two categories: grades 5–8 and grades 9–12. 

Siblings Lauren and Benjamin Taylor, are taking part in this initiative this year. Not only are they both students at LRHS, but they are also contributors for our newspaper, The Mycenaean News.

Lauren, senior and website editor at our newspaper, stated that participating in this program allows her to portray her personal challenges as a Jewish-American. 

“This podcast is about how as Jewish-Americans, we find community in Raleigh, where there isn’t a large majority of Jews,” said Lauren. 

She continued on about  how it is not only hard to find people from the Jewish community in North Carolina, but the podcast also shows her internal struggles while visiting Israel. 

“I’ve found companionship in friends from my youth group and others that live in other states, but the podcast also highlights my concern about making friends while traveling to Israel.” 

When she first visited with her youth group, Lauren realized that the Jewish-Israeli community is very different from that of the American. This made her want to do something with her experience, and maybe show others how they can relate to her. 

“I thought I would  be friends with and identify culturally with the Israelis, but I didn’t because Americans and Israelis are two different cultures, but I found friendship in the American-Jews in my trip,” said Taylor. 

Benjamin Taylor, sophomore and staff writer, also takes part in this project, sharing his story (fairly similar to his sister’s) in which the Jewish population lacks a place in society. 

His idea of a perfect world is one where individuals are self- aware of the damage and seclusion they cause in the world, and this podcast helps individuals see the isolation Jews feel.

“Less than three percent of the population is Jewish, making it a minority. I feel like it’s important for people to know what it’s like to live as a minority and never feel like you fit in,” said Benjamin.

This podcast shows the struggle to fit in and belong in society, as well as how to strive in a community of individuals who don’t relate to each other. 

“People should pay more attention to this contest and participate. It’s very important to share stories and experiences that help us grow and heal.”

There are thousands of entries each year, and this is an important one for the LRHS community, not only because it highlights the struggles of a minority, but also because it is based on two individuals in our school. 

Unfortunately,  there is no way to support the Taylors and their hard work, but you can use their story as an inspiration and tell your story of growth and resilience. 

To learn more about the contest and how you can participate and share your story, read more at the  podcast page.





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