Being in Iowa

Being in Iowa is a series of multi-part reports that goes in-depth to examine what it is like to be a minority in Iowa. The reports look at the issues, history, cultural traditions, challenges and future of each diverse group of people that are part of Iowa. Reporter Rob Dillard tells the stories by talking with the leaders and having intimate discussions with some members of each group, and taking listeners to the places that exemplify these communities.

Being in Iowa is funded in part by The Principal Financial Group Foundation.

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Arts and Culture
12:00 am
Fri November 14, 2014

The History of Waterloo in Five Chapters

Francesca Soans and Robert Neimeyer in the recording studio for their five-part documentary series on the history of Waterloo.
Credit University of Northern Iowa

Two Waterloo-area residents are in the midst of producing a series of five documentaries that chronicle the history of the city. The filmmakers are focusing their camera on a few locations that are key to Waterloo’s past.

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Health
12:00 am
Wed November 12, 2014

An Iowa-based Doctor Tracks Ebola

Dr. Samir Koirala trains a local health official in Sierra Leone on how to track Ebola.
Iowa Department of Public Health

A doctor on loan to the Iowa Department of Public Health is back in the state after a stint in Sierra Leone. The native of Nepal was there to track the ebola outbreak in West Africa. 

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Arts and Culture
12:00 am
Wed October 22, 2014

A Concert Pianist Adapts to Blindness

Concert pianist Tim Schmidt, a professor emeritus of music at Waldorf College, performs during the 50th anniversary of White Cane Day at the Iowa Department for the Blind.
Credit Rob Dillard

When the Iowa Department for the Blind threw a party to celebrate the 50th anniversary of White Cane Day, it called on a former client to provide entertainment. 

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Environment
12:00 am
Fri October 17, 2014

An Ojibwe Woman Protects Mother Earth

Carol Kramer in the regalia she wears when leading the Pine Point village Pow Wow.
Credit Photo extracted from a Dove Program poster circulated on the White Earth Indian Reservation.

The recipient of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation’s highest honor is being recognized for her environmental work while serving on the Jasper County Conservation Board and elsewhere. The Newton woman credits her Native American heritage for instilling a love of Mother Earth.

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Arts and Culture
12:00 am
Fri October 10, 2014

A Great Grandson of Slaves Leads Grinnell College

Credit: Grinnell College

Grinnell College President Dr. Raynard Kington leads one of the nation’s most selective, academically challenging institutions of higher learning. He uses his family’s oppressed past to introduce social justice issues to students.

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News
12:00 am
Thu September 25, 2014

A Split Personality Caused by a Mixed Heritage

Claudia Schabel stands in front of the Brazilian flag at Dupont Pioneer headquarters in Johnston.
Credit Rob Dillard

  Midwest-based hybrid seed giant Dupont-Pioneer, which has offices worldwide, employs someone called

   an Organizational Vibrancy Champion. In other words, she’s in charge of diversity.

“An organization becomes more vibrant when you have diversity inclusion, when you have employee engagement.”

Claudia Schabel

  holds the job on the sprawling campus of Dupont-Pioneer in Johnston. She’s nearly ideal for the job. Half of her character was shaped next to her twin sister in South America.

“I grew up in Capinas, Sao Paolo in Brazil,” she said

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Business and Economy
12:00 am
Tue September 16, 2014

Translating Trade Deals in China

Li Zhao Mandelbaum is owner of China Iowa Group, a trading company in West Des Moines
Credit Rob Dillard

Li Zhao Mandelbaum comes from a nation of more than one-point-three-billion people. So the concept of small is relative.

“I often introduce myself, I’m from Nanning, a small city in China, and people will say OK tell me the population, and I will say well, we have about six million population,” she said.

Her hometown is about an hour’s flight west of Hong Kong near China’s border with Vietnam. It’s known for its lush greenery and hilly terrain. But despite its beauty, it wasn’t enough for the adventurous, young Li Zhao.

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Business and Economy
12:00 am
Fri August 29, 2014

Native of India Leads High Tech Push

Tej Dhawan, co-founder of StartupCity Des Moines
Credit Rob Dillard

A few dozen of Central Iowa’s high-tech brain trust are pouring beers and munching tacos on the fifth floor of a downtown Des Moines office building.

They’ve come together a few days before the lights go out on a business incubator that became the centerpiece for an area known as Silicon Sixth.

They exchange pleasantries with the two men at the heart of Startup City Des Moines – Christian Renaud and Tej Dhawan.

Before the party began, Dhawan sat in a remote conference room and reflected on what he was looking to accomplish for high-tech firms in Central Iowa.

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Education
12:00 am
Fri August 22, 2014

A Refugee Connects with Students in Marshalltown

Aiddy Phomvisay at Marshalltown High School
Credit Rob Dillard

The marching band’s drum-line sets the tone for the first day of classes at Marshalltown High School.

Sixteen-hundred students fill the football-field bleachers as the school’s principal – Aiddy Phomvisay  – grabs a mike.

“If I could have your attention for less than five minutes," he announced. "I know that’s amazing that Mr. Phomvisay is only going to take five minutes to address the student body.”

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News
12:00 am
Tue August 5, 2014

Turning Sorrow into a Humanitarian Cause

Credit Rob Dillard

Her name is Salome Nengean – born in the northwest Iowa town of Sioux Center – raised in Nigeria. She’s 29 now and, with her husband, frequently travels to the place of her youth where her mother still lives. She says during one of these trips in 2011.

“We happened to meet two kids, who were living with an elderly woman, and somehow they just caught our attention," she said. "There was just something cute about them, there were other kids, but they would just separate from the rest of the group and sit together.”

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River to River
2:49 pm
Fri February 8, 2013

Being a Caregiver in Iowa

Lisa Davis with the resident cat at Trinity Center.
Credit IPR

All this week, IPR’s Rob Dillard has been exploring what it means to be a caregiver in Iowa.

We wrap up the series by having a discussion with a number of caregivers in our state about the challenges of care giving and their hopes for the future.

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Health
12:00 am
Fri February 8, 2013

Being in Iowa: Caregivers Home

Ron Groves requires at-home care from a visiting nurse following a string of surgeries

We’ve spent the week with people who perform some of the toughest work there is – the professionals and families who care for the sick and dying.  We conclude with a road trip to the south side of Des Moines. Correspondent Rob Dillard rides along with a home health nurse as she makes one of her 20 or so weekly patient visits. She delivers a style of health care reminiscent of bygone days when medical personnel often arrived at their patients’ doors to provide services. This kind of direct care is still in demand for those who are unable to venture far from home.

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Health
12:00 am
Thu February 7, 2013

Being in Iowa: Caregivers Hospice

Kavanaugh House in Des Moines

Iowa Public Radio has been bringing attention to the families and professionals who tend to the health needs of Iowans. It can be stressful and emotional work, perhaps never more so than when the person in need of care nears the end of life. Correspondent Rob Dillard takes us to a comfortable, peaceful place set on the edge of woods in Des Moines. It’s a hospice, a home where many people move to spend their final days.

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Health
6:00 am
Wed February 6, 2013

Being in Iowa: Caregivers Dementia

Correspondent Rob Dillard examines the difficult responsibilities that go along with taking care of someone who is sinking into dementia. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s. According to figures supplied by the local Alzheimer’s Association, some 69-thousand Iowans suffer from this debilitating disease. This number will likely swell to 71-thousand by 2020 and 77-thousand by 2025.  Dementia most often strikes the elderly. But in this report, Rob tells us it can also hit people in the prime of their life, bringing heartbreak to families with plans for their golden years.

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Health
12:00 am
Tue February 5, 2013

Being in Iowa: Caregivers Autism

The Children's Autism Project is a two-year-old initiative at the Homestead in Altoona.

Today, we continue our week-long series “Being a Caregiver in Iowa.” Yesterday we looked at professional caregivers, who face low pay and lack of training. In most cases, however, the responsibilities of direct care-giving fall to families. When it comes to families with an autistic child, this work can last a lifetime. In Part Two of our series, Iowa Public Radio correspondent Rob Dillard takes us to West Des Moines, where we meet the parents of an autistic boy, and their teenage daughter, who keeps an eye on her kid brother.

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Health
8:14 am
Mon February 4, 2013

Being in Iowa: Caregivers Direct

Lisa Davis with the resident cat at Trinity Center.

Iowa Public Radio is returning this week to its “Being in Iowa” series. Over the next five days, correspondent Rob Dillard will be asking the question, what does it mean to be a caregiver in the state? We begin today by talking about those who provide direct care for a living. It’s an occupation dominated by women and it’s one of the fastest growing workforces in the state. It’s also a job that pays very little and that many end up leaving. Rob Dillard reports on why – and how the state may be changing that.

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River to River
1:51 pm
Fri October 26, 2012

Religion In Iowa

NASA

This week’s Being in Iowa series has taken us to Hindu and Sikh Temples, examined the faiths of Mormons and Quakers, and talked with those who choose not to believe. Ben Kieffer and wraps up the series with a conversation about faith in some of Iowa’s smaller religious communities. Iowans tell their stories of coming to faith and moving away from it, and how those journeys have impacted lives.

Arts & Culture
12:00 am
Fri October 26, 2012

Being in Iowa: Quakers

In the final segment of this week's "Being in Iowa," we meet some Christians who go by a couple of names. We know them as Friends or as Quakers. There are also two branches of this religion in Iowa, representing two distinct approaches to worship.

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Arts & Culture
12:00 am
Thu October 25, 2012

Being in Iowa: Hindus

It took Indian artisans three years to carve the figures that cover the Hindu Temple south of Madrid

The Hindu Temple south of Madrid is an eye-catching structure with plaster images of animals and deities carved all over the outside surfaces. It’s where 500 families pray to the God they call Brahman, which they say is found in everything.

Arts & Culture
12:00 am
Wed October 24, 2012

Being in Iowa: Atheists

Controversy followed an advertising campaign sponsored by Iowa Atheists and Freethinkers

It’s impossible to put an exact number on how many people in the state describe themselves as atheist or agnostic. Many of them prefer to stay quiet about it. Iowa Public Radio correspondent Rob Dillard asked several Iowans who do not believe in a supernatural power about where they stand in a society that generally thinks religion is a good thing.

Arts & Culture
12:00 am
Tue October 23, 2012

Being in Iowa: Sikhs

Sikh men wear their hair unshorn with long beards and turbans

Iowa Public Radio is looking at how different groups of Iowans connect with God. Today, we examine the beliefs held within a 500-year old religion established in the Punjab region of northwest India and northeast Pakistan. In Punjabi it’s pronounced Sikhism (SICK-ism). Over the years, it’s been Anglicized to Sikhism (SEEK-ism). The practitioners at a Temple in West Des Moines pronounced it both ways.

Arts & Culture
12:00 am
Mon October 22, 2012

Being in Iowa: Mormons

Mormons say the Book of Mormon is a companion to the Bible.

With a devout Mormon running for president, pundits have labeled this period “the Mormon moment.” But polls indicate half the American public admits to knowing very little or nothing about the religion. Rob met with some practicing Mormons in Iowa City to understand more about their faith.

River to River
2:13 pm
Fri August 17, 2012

Being Southeast Asian in Iowa

All this week, we’ve been hearing what it’s like “Being Southeast Asian in Iowa.”  Our reports from IPR’s Rob Dillard have highlighted why so many Southeast Asians – many of them refugees -- settled in Iowa. Today, we’ll explore the culture of people from Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, and more --- and the efforts to preserve the culture in Iowa.

Arts & Culture
7:00 pm
Thu August 16, 2012

Being in Iowa: Southeast Asian: Burmese

Myanmar is bordered by China, India and Thailand

Nearly every transplant to Iowa from Southeast Asia who we’ve met this week has been in the state for a number of years. Iowa has a long history of welcoming them. That’s partially why refugees from that corner of the world continue to arrive. The latest are from the country now known as Myanmar. But it’s almost impossible to lump these new arrivals into a single group of refugees.

Arts & Culture
7:00 pm
Wed August 15, 2012

Being in Iowa: Southeast Asian: Integration

In part four of our series “Being Southeast Asian in Iowa.”  we explore what it takes to integrate into a place where the people speak a different language and practice different customs. Is it possible to maintain the traditions from back home and embrace the American way of doing things?

Arts & Culture
7:00 pm
Tue August 14, 2012

Being In Iowa: Southeast Asians: Culture

Thousands of Southeast Asians left behind the familiar culture of their homeland for a fresh start in Iowa. Although they’re now living on the opposite side of the world from their birthplace, these immigrants strive to maintain the traditions of their native countries. Correspondent Rob Dillard explains the lengths to which they go to bring a touch of Southeast Asia to the American Midwest.

Arts & Culture
7:00 pm
Mon August 13, 2012

Being in Iowa: Southeast Asian: Boat People

The "boat people" of Vietnam risked everything to escape Communist control

A few years after former Governor Robert Ray found a home in Iowa for the Tai Dam refugees of Laos, he did the same thing for another group who was seeking sanctuary. These were the “boat people”, most of them from Vietnam, who risked everything on the high seas to escape communism.

Arts & Culture
7:00 pm
Sun August 12, 2012

Being in Iowa: Southeast Asian: Tai Dam

The proposed Tai Village in Des Moines

The number of Southeast Asians in Iowa received a boost almost 40 years ago, when about 1,200 refugees who were fleeing the Communist takeover of Laos and Vietnam were allowed to resettle here. Their saga of escape from war and persecution is part of a bigger story about a compassionate governor and a state’s citizens, who opened their hearts to a batch of new residents.

River to River
1:38 pm
Fri June 15, 2012

Being in Iowa: Learning Disabled

In a weeklong series IPR reporter Rob Dillard connected with Iowans to share how their learning disability impacted their life. Host Ben Kieffer talks with doctors and people featured in the series about learning disabilities and how their lives have changed.

Education
1:45 am
Fri June 15, 2012

Being Learning Disabled in Iowa: Adults

Today, Iowa Public Radio concludes its week-long series “Being Learning Disabled in Iowa.” Over the past four days, correspondent Rob Dillard has been looking into the difficulties people with specific learning disabilities have while moving through the lower grades, into high school and on to college. Now, Rob tells us about the adjustments these people must continue to make throughout their lifetimes in order to function with a disorder that never completely disappears.

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