A Sneak Peak Into NPR's First Ever College Podcast Challenge Submissions Here are some of the standout entries from NPR's first-ever College Podcast Challenge.

A Sneak Peak Into NPR's First Ever College Podcast Challenge Submissions

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

NPR's first-ever College Podcast Challenge ended this week. Students from all over the country submitted their stories for the chance to get on the air. We'll hear from the winners next month. NPR's Sequoia Carrillo has a sneak peek of some early favorites.

SEQUOIA CARRILLO, BYLINE: We got podcasts from all over the country, from community colleges and big universities, about a ton of different subjects. But one common theme - the global pandemic that has upended students' lives.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "KID TALK: HOW KIDS PERCEIVE THE CORONAVIRUS")

AUDREY THIBERT: When I asked one 6-year-old why wearing masks is important, his answer really stuck with me.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #1: Whenever I see somebody cough, I feel scared.

CARRILLO: That's Audrey Thibert, a freshman from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. For her podcast, she decided to see how the pandemic was affecting the youngest members of society.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "KID TALK: HOW KIDS PERCEIVE THE CORONAVIRUS")

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #2: Dangerous, I guess.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #3: Not fun.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #4: Repetitive.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #5: Distancing, I guess.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #6: Deadly.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #7: Boring.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #8: Annoying.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #1: Dangerous.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #9: Different.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #10: Lonely.

THIBERT: Ten kids were asked to describe the coronavirus in one word. Those are the words they chose.

CARRILLO: Other students looked at their own campuses and the emotions and stress that millions of their classmates have felt this year.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "BEING A COLLEGE STUDENT DURING A PANDEMIC")

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT #1: So we all left thinking it was spring break. No one really packed anything. We thought we were all coming back.

CARRILLO: Sophie Laclef, a freshman at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, chronicles the rise of COVID on her campus and the lockdowns that came in response. Her interviews explore how the shutdown left students feeling lonely and isolated.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "BEING A COLLEGE STUDENT DURING A PANDEMIC")

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT #2: Being, like, the only person home was very hard - just not being able to see friends, also not being able to make new friends that I was looking forward to at college.

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT #3: I lost all my motivation. And now I'm, like, trying to figure things out before finals. So I don't know. It's been kind of rough.

CARRILLO: One thing any good podcast can do is transport us to a different place.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "HAWAIIAN PIDGIN")

JACOB ALOI: Picture with me for a second that you are in my hometown, walking down Market Street in Wailuku on the island of Maui.

CARRILLO: One entry that did that really well was Jacob Aloi. He's a junior at Hamline University but grew up in Hawaii.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "HAWAIIAN PIDGIN")

ALOI: You hear the cars rushing by as locals try to make it to work and tourists try to make it to whatever beach they are trying to find on their guide map. You hear the flipping and flopping of rubber slippers. And every so often, you catch the waves in the far distance.

CARRILLO: But Jacob's not just giving us a tour. He's here to teach us something.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "HAWAIIAN PIDGIN")

LOIS: So what? They going to come or what? I don't know. They said they was going to come. So what? You think they're going - no, they're not going to come. (Speaking Hawaiian pidgin). Yeah, whatevers (ph).

ALOI: This is Hawaiian pidgin. It is iconic and as ubiquitous as shave ice and surfing to the Hawaiian Islands.

CARRILLO: Jacob talks to his Auntie Lois, a native speaker, to understand the background and culture of the language.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "HAWAIIAN PIDGIN")

LOIS: To me, pidgin is not just a means of communicating. It's a means of surviving. You're going to be treated as an outcast if you don't sound like them. So it's a way of assimilating.

CARRILLO: We also got some funny ones along the way, like Sam Rikshpun and Kevin Gilbert from the University of Albany. They made a podcast about something very dear to them - underrated NFL players.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "THE PASS")

SAM RIKSHPUN: All right. So I'm going to start things off for Show Him Some Respect - Episode 2, by the way.

KEVIN GILBERT: (Laughter).

RIKSHPUN: I'm going to Hollywood. I'm going to LA. It's the LA Rams cornerback Darious Williams.

CARRILLO: The Student Podcast Challenge College Edition will announce finalists and the winner in late March. And middle and high school students, you've still got plenty of time to get your podcasts in. For more information on the contest, you can go to npr.org/studentpodcastchallenge. Sequoia Carrillo, NPR News.

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