In this special pandemic edition of “Born And Raised,” hosts Alisha Sahwney, Al Donato, and their guests explore themes of belonging and identity in immigrant families by heading where the heart is.
We decided on our season three theme last year, after the COVID-19 pandemic sent us all home last March. The team figured episodes about this topic would be all too relatable for listeners. That, and the obvious: what is a podcast about Canadian-born children of immigrants if not a sonic meditation on where we feel at home — with ourselves, our loved ones, our communities, and our cultures?
So, we went off to work, as best as we could. We built DIY blanket studios in closets, interviewed our brilliant guests, chugged away on scripts, edited a million revisions, and won an award along the way.
And then ...
The news that HuffPost Canada was shutting down came as suddenly as the pandemic did a year ago. We were mid-production on the season, still tweaking and planning voiceovers. It was heartbreaking for us to learn this news so close to the finish line.
We couldn’t bear with the thought of these incredible stories never being heard by our listeners, who’ve been with us throughout the years. And we couldn’t leave the show we’ve loved for so long and worked on so hard without a proper send-off.
So, while we can, we’ve decided to release the first three episodes, as is. You’ll relate to host Alisha Sawhney’s very second-gen home life sitch, tear up listening to a love letter for a cherished place in Chinatown, and laugh at the hilarious insights the common dishwasher stirs up.
To our listeners, and to those who have read, watched, supported and loved our Born And Raised series since the start in 2016, thank you. From the moment B&R creator Arti Patel said, “I want to tell the stories of second-generation Canadians. I want to tell stories about people like me,” this has been our labour of love. So many HuffPost Canada editors past and present are second-gen, and it has meant the world to us to share our stories, share your stories, and hopefully, help people know that their lived experiences matter, are valid, and are truly Canadian.
Born And Raised and this show has been like a home for us. It’s our honour to welcome you in, one last time.
Al, Alisha and Lisa.
Episode 1: Full House
Alisha Sawhney shares the sweet sounds of her family’s daily symphony, created by three generations living under one roof.
There’s one virtuoso at the heart of it: her nani, whose lovable ways and pranayama yoga exercises give Alisha a lot to think about.
Episode 2: Living Room
“Chinatown’s living room” is the nickname affectionately given to Tea Base, a cafe-turned-community arts space co-founded by Hannia Cheng, located in the basement of a downtown Toronto mall.
Since opening in 2019, Tea Base has become a beloved neighbourhood fixture and home-away-from-home for Hannia, one that’s strengthened their connection to their identity. Al Donato visits Hannia at Tea Base; a renoviction notice causes Hannia to reflect on their values, the importance of queer Asian spaces, and the painful, but necessary, act of letting go.
Pandemic Update: After this episode was made, Tea Base found a new unit to call home inside Chinatown Centre, and has become a co-op.
Episode 3: Kitchen
Did your immigrant family use the dishwasher growing up? For Samantha Lui, her family’s dishwasher was a glorified dish rack.
Sam and Alisha talk about why using the kitchen appliance feels like “a treat” and the challenges of self-care for millennials with immigrant parents.
Co-host, producer: Alisha Sawhney
Co-host, producer, editor: Al Donato
Executive producer: Lisa Yeung
Audio editor: Nathara Imenes
Graphics: Yenwei Liu, DeAndria Mackey