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I wanted to pump life into those flattened voices and really show that we are complete human beings, and that we are more than the nine weeks that it takes to get here.

Javier Zamora Poet; Author, Solito
Aspen Ideas To Go

A Deeper Look at the Immigrant Experience

A Deeper Look at the Immigrant Experience

Show Notes

The stories we hear about migrants trying to escape difficult circumstances tend to focus on hardship, conflict, statistics and policy. We rarely get a deep look at any of the people risking their lives to cross the U.S. border or take a boat to Europe, and we don’t get to know or understand them as fellow humans. Writer Javier Zamora came to the U.S. when he was nine years old, as an unaccompanied minor. Over the nine weeks it took to make the journey, he had to put his trust in a small group of strangers and the man paid to get him into the country. He revisited that experience to write a memoir called “Solito” that shows him and other migrants in full dimensions. Novelist Jamie Ford’s most recent book, “The Many Daughters of Afong Moy,” explores migration in a different time and place, along with the ways migrants’ decisions stretch across eras. Afong Moy was a Chinese woman brought to the U.S. as a performer in 1834. She became extremely well-known across the country, but remained a spectacle and was not offered citizenship or long-term opportunity. Ford researched his own family to help write the book, starting with his great-grandfather who came from China to work in a mine in Nevada. TODAY show co-host Jenna Bush Hager selected both books for her book club, “Read With Jenna,” and interviews the authors.


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