ISO students Hannah Hartman and Peter Lee just released the third episode of their podcast, Outcast. As co-hosts and founders, Hannah and Peter started Outcast as a platform for ISO students to share their experiences. Each 30 minute episode features the story of one individual and are available on Spotify and other major streaming platforms.
As ISO students themselves, Hannah and Peter expressed that it can be difficult to feel like “we can be who we are” when immersed in American culture, especially when the struggles of being an ISO student can prove difficult to express in American society as a whole. While diversity in general has increasingly been discussed in recent years, “international diversity is just as important,” and ISO students are sometimes left out of the conversation.
The first episode, released on December 26th, features guest Jasmine Rupani, a junior Communication Arts major at Gordon. The episode, which centered on identity, highlighted Jasmine’s story as a third culture kid (TCK) who is half Indian and half Filipino. She was born in Illinois and later moved to the Philippines, continuing to move around often throughout her life. In the episode, she shared her experience reconciling her multicultural identity.
The second episode, which aired January 19th, was a Special Guest episode featuring ISO director Ingrid Orellana Mathew. While standard episodes share the stories of current multicultural and international students at Gordon, the Special Guest episodes involve a guest “who has an international background to share how their cross-cultural experiences have shaped them after college.” These guests are post-grad adults offering “wisdom and insight surrounding international topics through their life stories.”
The latest episode, released on February 25th, is titled “MK to MK: Part 1.” This is the first part of a two-part series exploring both Peter’s and Hannah’s own experiences growing up as missionary kids (MKs). Part 1 features Peter and his own story of growing in India, as well as his understanding of his Korean heritage and his experience moving to the States.
The title of the podcast encompasses the otherness and isolation that often characterizes ISO experiences. The word “outcast” is intended as a noun, rather than a verb. As Hannah shared, “[ISO students] are outcasts and different in every culture that’s not our own. However, we are also cast out into the world to do the work for His kingdom.” ISO director Ingrid Orellana helped foster their vision and worked closely with Hannah and Peter under ISO leadership prior to becoming the director of this project. “She loved this idea and has been behind us and encouraging us behind the scenes.” Hannah and Peter expressed gratitude for her support. “We would not have been able to do [it] without her.”
As missionary and third culture kids, Hannah and Peter expressed that it can be a challenge for American students to listen to people from different cultures and understand who they are. Co-host Peter Lee, a Business major and senior, is Korean but also grew up in India. Hannah, a Sophomore, double majoring in English and Communications, is from the Czech Republic. She said she hopes other students can not only “listen to our experiences but also learn something from them.” They want the podcast to be validating for other ISO students and to foster a greater understanding and respect for ISO students.
The podcast will tackle the struggles of being an ISO student and the “hard things not everyone understands,” as well as the things that are “really awesome about being an ISO student.” TCKs in particular have difficulties expressing their experiences, since they are perceived as American by nationality but feel very different internally. Some other topics that might be covered in future episodes include homesickness, culture shock, and languages. Outcast seeks to provide a “space to breathe” and a source of solidarity for MKs, TCKs and international students in the process.
Hannah and Peter plan to release three to four episodes per semester and are currently working on writing and producing content. They have been using the Chapel’s recording equipment, which was used for the Contemplative Tuesday podcast last year. Hannah and Peter are still in the process of getting their own proper recording equipment, including an SD card, headsets, and adapters. The podcast also has its own logo thanks to Gordon’s Design Center.
Outcast will also be partnering with Ingrid’s cross-cultural journey podcast series which will start this semester. The series will act as a learning session to prepare ISO students for difficulties they might encounter during their time at Gordon. However, since this series isn’t as well known, Peter and Hannah hope that the student testimony presented in Outcast will generate more student interest, and that its inclusion of special guests will provide unique insight for international and American students alike.
While the podcast mainly focuses on ISO students, it is also open to hosting multicultural students in general, since “international” isn’t limited to different countries but also multicultural people within the US. Hannah and Peter are grateful for all the doors God opened in the process of starting up the podcast and look forward to being, as Hannah put it, “The stewards of something greater” through their work on the podcast. “This is not just our dream, but the Lord’s dream too.”