The United States and Mexico share deep personal, economic, geographic and cultural connections, but understanding — on both sides of the border — is often limited by stereotype and media exaggeration. Round Earth Media is out to change that. We launched in 2005, with a bounty of stories from Mexico, supported by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Now, in a groundbreaking new collaboration and with generous support from the John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation, Round Earth Media is pairing young American and Mexican journalists, to produce powerful, untold stories from Mexico. These stories are broadcast and published in top-tier media, reaching huge audiences in both countries. Here’s our latest, broadcast on NPR. Mexico City artist Pedro Reyes is in the process of converting thousands of narco gang weapons seized by the government into musical instruments. Click HERE to listen.
Art & Culture
March 19th, 2013 | By Mary Stucky
February 22nd, 2013 | By Mary Stucky
This week marks the two-year anniversary of Morocco’s version of the so-called Arab Spring. It didn’t unseat a dictator. But, tens of thousands of Moroccans took to the streets demanding democracy. Morocco’s powerful King diffused the protest by offering a few reforms. But little has changed for most Moroccans – especially the country’s young people. Many have found their voice in rap music. From Morocco on The World, with stunning photos by student photojournalist Shalea Harris. The latest from Round Earth Media’s groundbreaking collaboration with SIT Study Abroad. Click HERE to listen and view the photos.
February 19th, 2013 | By Mary Stucky
Mexico City artist Pedro Reyes is in the process of converting thousands of narco gang weapons seized by the government into musical instruments. Mexican reporter Omar Sanchez de Tagle, paired with American reporter Marlon Bishop, produced this story as part of Round Earth’s Mexico Reporting Project. Omar’s story appears in Animal Politico, a major Mexican investigative news website.
To read this powerful story in Spanish, view photos and a video, click HERE.
Our untold stories, published and broadcast in top-tier media, reach huge audiences in the U.S. and in the countries where we are reporting.
June 18th, 2012 | By Round Earth Media
Kenyan singer Nina Ogot tells reporter Mary Stucky about her new musical inspiration: working with young people who live on the streets of Nairobi. (more…)
April 29th, 2012 | By Mary Stucky
We are partnering in Morocco with some brilliant academics — two with whom we’re working most closely are Said Graiouid and Taieb Belghazi. They invited me to participate in a fascinating conference recently at the University Mohammed V in Rabat. Researchers came from around the world to discuss topics ranging from Moroccan hip hop, to racism against Sub-Saharan migrants in Morocco, to the importance of Moroccan music festivals.
Here’s just a taste.
Moroccan Music Festivals
Everywhere one turns in Rabat these days, there are billboards advertising next month’s block-buster Mawazine Music Festival (featuring big stars like Mariah Carey along with lesser-known luminaries). Urban spaces in Morocco have long been controlled and exploited by the State but now, for some observors, music festivals have given a great portion of that urban space back to the people. On the other hand, some Moroccans say they plan to protest the Mawazine Festival in particular, arguing that the State sponsors expensive festivals (which are usually free of charge to those who attend) in order to placate and distract Moroccans from the very real social, economic and political problems facing them. Researcher Moulay Driss El Maarouf shed light on “the urban dynamics of power and counter-power in Moroccan music festivals.”
April 5th, 2012 | By Mary Stucky
But there’s a lighter side to Sbaa Rouadi – sports, festivals and especially food. Eating local takes on a whole new meaning here. Except for the occasional orange or banana, village residents grow all their own food and even make their own couscous, Morocco’s staple starch. At tea time, tables are piled high with fresh bread, platters of green and black olives and butter from local cows. But although the homemade food tastes delicious, preparing it is no picnic. For the average resident of Sbaa Rouadi, eating local means that food preparation structures much of the day.
Baking bread alone takes rural women up to two hours. Hanan Maghnoui, a seventeen-year-old in charge of her family’s culinary affairs, laughs when asked how many times she bakes bread each week. “I make it every day! What a question. How do you think we eat?” By her estimates, she spends between eight and ten hours a day preparing and serving food, and that’s with the help of a koukout,or pressure cooker.
Hanan has never been to school. “The school teacher here hit my older sister once, and after that I didn’t want to go,” she said. But she learned to read and write at home and she keeps a small notebook with family recipes.
For bread though, no recipe book is required. After she cleans up breakfast, Hanan throws together approximately fifteen cups of flour, a quarter cup of salt and some yeast in a large plastic tub. Little, by little, she adds warm water until the flour mixture becomes a moist dough, called aheen in Arabic. After kneading the dough for fifteen minutes, she covers it with a towel and leaves it to rise.
Unlike traditional American bread, Moroccan khobz is not baked in a pan. Instead, the dough is fashioned into flat circles and baked over coals in a faran, the traditional Moroccan oven.
When the oven is ready, Hanan flips the round, flat pieces onto a long sheet of blackened metal with the skill of an Italian pizza chef. Then, she slides the tray into the mouth of the oven and tosses a wet jacket over the opening to help keep the heat in.
The wait is short. After just five minutes, the flat dough has puffed into golden half orbs, slightly brown on the edges. Hanan flips them over and covers the oven opening again. This time, it’s just sixty seconds before she pulls out the loaves, which have grown into evenly browned circles about an inch tall and twelve inches in diameter.
The bread cools for a moment, but Hanan does not have the luxury of watching it. She’s already busy preparing lunch.
While women are in charge of baking bread and preparing meals, men work hard to produce the raw ingredients. Wheat, potatoes, lentils, tomatoes and olives are all grown locally in addition to a wide variety of herbs like mint, which is used for Morocco’s famous tea.
Although most of the village land is dedicated to agriculture, Sbaa Rouadi does not lack for meat. Chickens, which cluck around the front yard of most homes, are a common—and fairly inexpensive—source of protein. They are generally left free to roam, and sometimes families find eggs tucked away inside feed bags or under dense piles of brush. Rabbits are another common source of dinner meat and are often raised to be sold so the family has a small source of cash.
A more common source of cash is milk cows, however.
Each day, Mohammed Maghnoui wakes up just before dawn, at roughly five-thirty in the morning, to milk the cows for the first of two times that day. After wiping their udders clean with some water from a nearby pump, he races to finish the chore before his neighbor—who owns a van—arrives to pick up the 16 gallons of fresh milk. After collecting the entire neighborhood’s milk, the man drives it to nearby Fez, where it is sold to city residents in time for breakfast.
Not all the milk is sold, however, and extra becomes fresh butter, yogurt, and a salty buttermilk drink called leben that is especially popular after Friday couscous.
“The butter is the best in Morocco,” Mohammed says as he spreads it generously on a slab of fresh bread. But he recognizes the tradeoffs. “Work here is hard. Sometimes I work twelve hours a day.” He points to his hands which are creased with dirt and tough from hard field and wonders what it would be like to live in the city. But like most residents, he ultimately insists that the country is the place for him. Stacy Wheeler MORE
April 5th, 2012 | By Mary Stucky
There is some improvement in the lives of twenty six Sbaa Rouadi men. At least for now. The men are working construction on what will be a school for Islamic studies in the village. The project is funded by the Association Abi Bakr Essedik for Education, according to Abdesselam Bouchokhi, the accountant for the project. In Morocco, private associations are building schools because the government of Morocco fails to provide all the schools that are needed. Still, while this construction project is providing temporary work for the men of the village, it is not a permanent solution to economic development here. Louis Zeller
Even for graduates of the new school, there’s no guarantee of a job, says Bouchikhi . And while tuition, room and board will be free for the more than 200 students, the school is only for men. Bouchikhi says “no women from the village will be able to attend.” Princess Goodridge
Despite these challenges some people in the village are able to achieve an education – even an advanced one. Youssef Rahmouni holds a BA in English literature and is currently pursuing a second BA in history. Rahmouni’s family hosted student journalist Veronica Jean Seltzer. Seltzer interviewed Rahmouni and started by asking what made him want to get a higher education.
Rahmouni: The first motivation is the prophet, peace be upon him. When I was a child I always wanted to read books-philosophy, literature. I was motivated to read religious books about the prophet and how he was so humble and intelligent to unite the Arabs. I was inspired by him, his communication style. I don’t know, maybe I’ll be like him. Second is my Mom. She’s so loving. I want to help the family financially and socially. The University is two hours there and two back. Leaves you no time to revise, no time to read, but I did my best to continue.
Seltzer: We certainly did not expect to have such a scholarly host brother. What do you think about that?
R: I’m not the only intellectual here. Perhaps because I speak English we can exchange ideas. Language is just a window through which we express ourselves. The others are intellectual too. They just can’t speak.
S: Do you think you’re different from other villagers?
R: Yes, maybe I’m different. I have thoughts, ideology. I’m similar in the life; I suffer like them, I want to change things.
S: What do you see for yourself in the future?
R: I dream to improve the life of the people here. One can only do this through politics. To take their voice, the real voice, to the right hands. People should benefit from politics, not become victims of politics.
S: What is your favorite part of living here?
R: Its calm, peace, good people. Peaceful in terms of nature, people. Not in terms of politics. We’re fighting to gain our rights, to fight the corruptor, to achieve development. This is a daily challenge.
S: Could you imagine living anywhere else?
R: No, I don’t imagine myself living somewhere else. This is my place. I’d fight to improve it and whenever I go I’d fight to come back. This is a humanitarian and religious principle. I would die for this place. MORE
October 25th, 2011 | By Round Earth Media
In the Republic of Georgia in Eastern Europe for the first time ever (starting October 1, 2010), defendants have the option of being tried by a jury of their peers. This staple of the American court system was made part of the Georgia constitution six years ago. It’s only just now being offered on a limited basis. But as Mary Stucky reports, the United States has been part of a rather unconventional effort to get the country ready.
September 11th, 2010 | By Round Earth Media
When Kunrath Lam was just a little girl she endured one of the most brutal regimes the world has ever known. Nearly 2 million Cambodians died during the reign of the Communist Khmer Rouge in the 1970s. Kunrath Lam and her parents somehow managed to survive – though her childhood was one of intense deprivation. Lam used to dream of the delicious meals her grandmother had prepared for her in happier times. Lam’s absolute favorite– plear salad. Now, in the new country she calls home, Lam makes plear for customers at her restaurant in St. Paul, Minnesota. Mary Stucky paid her a visit. Her story appeared in World Vision Report.
September 11th, 2010 | By Round Earth Media
Throughout East Africa, goat is a traditional source of both meat and milk. When he was a boy in Somalia, Jamal Hashi spent his summers herding goats on his family’s farm. Now, he’s in the United States, introducing Americans to Somali delicacies – including goat — at his restaurant in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Mary Stucky visited Jamal Hashi as he prepared roasted goat cutlet with vegetables in a special sauce – a dish he says his mother served on special occasions in Somalia.