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International lineup

Tune in! Radio program aims to connect newcomer community

Student Life

By Rebecca Rebeiro

Nabila Qureshi was looking for a fun activity to fill her time this summer.

She ended up finding more than she could have imagined volunteering with Radio RIAC.

An extension of the Refugee and Immigrant Advisory Council (RIAC), the new hourly radio show, run exclusively by volunteers at CHMR Radio on the St. John’s campus, looks to provide greater cultural breadth by creating a space to inform, educate and entertain listeners on issues of immigration and inclusion.

“What Radio RIAC is really helping with is building a social network,” said VOCM’s Darrell Power, who hosts the program. “And it also offers Newfoundlanders and Labradorians a chance to connect with other cultures.”

Ms. Qureshi, a graduate student in community health and humanities at the Faculty of Medicine, met Mr. Power when she came on the show to talk about teaching English as a second language (ESL) with RIAC.

Darrell Power interviewing Nabila Qureshi on Radio RIAC at CHMR Radio on the St. John’s campus.
Photo: Submitted

“He spotted me and said, ‘You’re part of the show now,’ and I said, ‘Yes, I’m interviewing today,’ and he countered with, ‘No, you’re on the team,’’’ said Ms. Qureshi, as she shared a laugh with Mr. Power.

Thanks to Mr. Power’s recruiting methods, Radio RIAC’s small group of volunteers has seen an influx of interested students, each with unique backgrounds and stories to tell.

“When we reached out to one of our now reporters, Lejla Elezovic, to talk about Bosnia, she was delighted to play songs from her home country and tell us about different Bosnian cuisine,” said Ms. Qureshi. “Lejla mentioned that rarely does Bosnian culture come up in conversation, but now she had shared some tidbits about her tiny country with people from a tiny island.”

N.L. to Brazil to Zimbabwe and beyond

Darrell Power with rapper Aldi Wildan.
Photo: Submitted

The show is produced and edited by Zay Nova, a veteran radio producer from Indonesia, who helped determine the show’s four segments.

What’s Up Local explores social and cultural activities happening in St. John’s; Bring’em With Us looks at culinary dishes from around the world; Immigration/RIAC News, investigates immigration and settlement-related issues in St. John’s and Canada; and Multicultural Music offers a wide array of global tunes.

Although Ms. Qureshi is familiar with some of the topics discussed, becoming one of the show’s reporters was a completely new experience — one she has found surprisingly helpful for her thesis research.

“When I had the chance to speak with a guest on-air by myself, I developed a real understanding of how to conduct a successful interview,” she said.

“I’m just about to start my qualitative research for my thesis about the impact of resettlement on refugee youth, so this interview experience is truly invaluable.”

What it boils down to

“We’re losing population, and immigration is going to be key to the future of the province,” said Mr. Power.  “This program is a great move forward for the city and what I call the “new” Newfoundland and Labrador.”
Ms. Qureshi adds that the show is “open to everyone.”

“Even though it’s about multiculturalism, the local is also part of that narrative. If someone wants to come on and share their recipe for toutons, for someone like me who didn’t even know what toutons were, that would be very interesting. We’re really an open platform.”

Radio RIAC airs Saturdays at 7 p.m. on CHMR 93.5 FM.

Other members of the Radio RIAC team include Jose Rivera, director, RIAC; Takwa Mahmood, projects co-ordinator; Maka Binimelis, part of Radio RIAC IT support; Charlotte Gardiner, community outreach co-ordinator; Bobbi Dawn, ESL co-ordinator; Amparo Montoya, radio manager; Lejla Elezovic, Radio RIAC reporter; and Coni Safatle Ferrari, co-ordinator, Partakes, an arts, culture, media and events society.

Some of the Radio RIAC team during a meeting this summer.
Photo: Submitted

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