Culture and Diversity

Iowa Public Radio's Culture and Diversity reports go 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. Correspondent Rob Dillard and other IPR reporters tell 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.

Iowa Public Radio's Culture and Diversity reporting is funded in part by The Principal Financial Group Foundation and The Dr. Richard Deming Foundation.

Being in Iowa: Hindus

Oct 25, 2012

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.

Being in Iowa: Atheists

Oct 24, 2012

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.

Being in Iowa: Sikhs

Oct 23, 2012

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.

Being in Iowa: Mormons

Oct 22, 2012

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.

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.

Being in Iowa: Southeast Asian: Burmese

Aug 16, 2012

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.

Being in Iowa: Southeast Asian: Integration

Aug 15, 2012

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?

Being In Iowa: Southeast Asians: Culture

Aug 14, 2012

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.

Being in Iowa: Southeast Asian: Boat People

Aug 13, 2012

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.

Being in Iowa: Southeast Asian: Tai Dam

Aug 12, 2012

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.

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.

Being Learning Disabled in Iowa: Adults

Jun 15, 2012

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.

Being Learning Disabled in Iowa: College

Jun 14, 2012

Iowa Public Radio is presenting Part Four in its week-long series “Being Learning Disabled in Iowa.” Yesterday we heard about the challenges faced by young students when it first becomes apparent they are having difficulties learning to read and write. Today, reporter Rob Dillard explores the struggles they may encounter in higher education, and the accommodations some colleges are making.

Being Learning Disabled in Iowa: Early Intervention

Jun 12, 2012

It’s estimated between six and seven percent of Iowa’s K-through-12 students have specific learning disabilities. This minority of kids are often separated from their classmates, and labeled as different. In part three of our series, we look at how this impacts the psyche of these students.

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

Being Learning Disabled in Iowa: Treatment

Jun 12, 2012

A variety of teaching approaches are employed to help people who have trouble reading, writing or comprehending. Some of the pioneering research in the field took place at the University of Iowa.

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

It’s estimated as many as one in five Americans experience some form of specific learning disability. Identifying who these people are, however, is not a precise science.

It took years before Jefferson-Scranton High School senior Mary Larson and her parents figured out why she couldn’t read. She depended on her father to read her grade school textbooks out loud. By fifth grade, she still showed no signs of grasping the meaning of written words.

“I went to Iowa City hospital and they had a professional test me, I had to do some reading tests, comprehension.”

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