Listeners Weigh In On Immigration, Male Mentors

Tell Me More Editor Ammad Omar and host Michel Martin comb through listener feedback from recent segments, including immigrants' personal stories and male mentoring in light of the Penn State child sex abuse scandal. They also discuss news updates from Florida A&M University, where a suspected hazing incident has shaken the campus.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And now it's time for BackTalk, where we lift the curtain on what's happening in the TELL ME MORE blogosphere and get to hear from you, our listeners. Ammad Omar is here with us once again. He's an editor here at TELL ME MORE. Welcome back, Ammad. What do you have for us?

AMMAD OMAR, BYLINE: Hi, Michel. Well, first off, I just want to say, like you did earlier, that we got a lot of feedback about out In Limbo series. Some people were really interested to hear those personal stories and they even offered some of their own stories, but other people thought the series was too sympathetic to illegal immigrants.

MARTIN: And I want to say I understand that. When you're letting people tell their personal stories from their own perspective, it can seem that way, but I do hope people realize that the conversation we had with Mark Krikorian earlier - that we recognize those other perspectives.

Ammad, what else did people have to talk about?

OMAR: Well, we got a lot of feedback from your commentary on Monday. It was about an email you got from a young listener.

MARTIN: Right. He's a recent college grad struggling to find work and he basically said a lot of people in his generation feel hopeless about the whole economic situation and I wanted to know if anybody had any advice for him.

OMAR: Well, a lot of people did. We got a lot of emails and comments on our website. As you might imagine, a lot of people had similar stories. Some people were quite sympathetic to that gentleman, but other people, like Kelly Smith(ph) from Indianapolis said, every generation goes through the same thing and young graduates shouldn't feel so discouraged.

KELLY SMITH: I certainly reject this idea that this is all gloom and doom for young people that are coming out of school. I think that all that does is open up the door for people who do have an attitude that - I'm talented. I'm gifted. I work hard. Those are the things that will stand out regardless of what's happening with the economy, regardless of who's in office right now.

MARTIN: Thank you, Kelly. Thank you for writing and thanks to all who wrote in. But as you remember, Ammad, the young man who wrote the letter - his name is Paul, by the way - did express the feeling that older folks just don't get it, essentially that they're not grasping just how discouraging the current situation is for young people right now.

OMAR: Right. And there was a lot of that back and forth on the website, that disconnect, as a word, sparked a big debate that's going on in the Comment section of our website on your commentary right now.

MARTIN: Anything else?

OMAR: Yeah. Just a couple of days ago, you sat down with a panel of dads and mentors to ask if mentoring young men had changed at all since this whole Penn State scandal broke.

There were some questions about whether it's appropriate to show physical affection to a child you're mentoring. Well, Megan Capollo(ph) from Big Sky, Montana, wrote in. She said she's chaperoned regular school trips to Yellowstone National Park, and at the end of the trip when they say goodbye to the rangers, they offer each kid the choice of a handshake, hug, high five or fist bump. She says it's a great way to solve the awkwardness because kids can choose what they're comfortable with.

MARTIN: I like that idea. It also falls in line with my philosophy, which is - I'll just reiterate it. I tell my own children, if you'd like to hug somebody, you can. If you don't want to, you don't.

Do you have anything else?

OMAR: Well, we've got a quick news update. On Thursday, you spoke with the parents of Robert Champion, Jr. He's the Florida A&M University drum major who died last month allegedly because of a hazing incident.

The university's board of trustees held an emergency meeting yesterday and they decided to publicly reprimand the school's president, James Ammons. Board members agreed that Ammons could have done a better job addressing hazing at the university and handling the fallout from Champion's death.

MARTIN: And we will certainly keep the Champion family in our thoughts. Thank you for those updates, Ammad.

OMAR: Thank you, Michel.

MARTIN: And remember, with TELL ME MORE, the conversation never ends. To tell us more, you can call our comment line at 202-842-3522 or visit us online at NPR.org/TellMeMore. Please remember to leave your name. And you can also find us on Twitter. Just look for TELL ME MORE, NPR.

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