First Days In America

This series explores the memories of six Reno community members of their entry into the United States. They come from vastly different backgrounds. These stories were produced by students at the Reynolds School of Journalism for NPR's Next Generation Radio Program. Reno Public Radio is a proud partner for that training program.

First Days In America: Driving Like An American

Jul 1, 2017
Perla Gomez-Silva

Alejandro Lugo is adapting to driving in the U.S. In his hometown of San Salvador, he says he’s used to getting away with things.

“People don’t follow stop signs, they don’t respect red lights, they don’t respect anything,” he says.

In El Salvador, Lugo explains, he didn’t trust the police. So, he didn’t stop if a policeman tried to pull him over.

“In my country, you’d be scared to pull over for a cop because you’re not sure if they’re actually policemen or thieves,” he says. “You would rather be considered a delinquent and not stop than to get shot.”

Holly Hutchings

Emma Sepulveda entered the United States after fleeing the 1973 military coup in Chile. Decades later, she directs the Latino Research Center at the University of Nevada, Reno. Student reporter Holly Hutchings recently spoke to her for NPR’s Next Generation Radio Program about her first days in America. 

First Days In America: Run and Don’t Look Back!

Jul 1, 2017
Jacob Solis

When Manuel Mederos crossed the Mexican border into the US, he watched his sister being picked up by border patrol and spent the next day wondering if he would see her again. Mederos recently spoke to student reporter Jacob Solis for NPR’s Next Generation Radio Program about his first days in America. Let's take a listen.  

Manuel Mederos was 11 when it happened. He was told to run, and run fast. He was confused and afraid, but the smuggler, the coyote, was very clear: don’t look back.

Joey Lovato

Emanuele Ziaco used to live in an Italian city older than the Bible, but in 2012 he moved to Reno to study trees. 

First Days In America: Coming to America, Reluctantly

Jun 27, 2017
Ruben Kimmelman

As a case manager at the Northern Nevada International Center, Rawdhah Al Salihi uses the experiences of her own journey from Iraq to help newly-arrived refugees and immigrants. She recently spoke to student reporter Ruben Kimmelman for NPR’s Next Generation Radio Program about her first days in America, which included a trip to IHOP. 

First Days In America: Between Two Countries

Jun 26, 2017
Paolo Zialcita

Wences Blanquet was only four years old when he illegally crossed the Mexican border into California. Student reporter Paolo Zialcita recently interviewed Blanquet, a Reno resident, for NPR’s Next Generation Radio Program to learn more about his first days in America.

Blanquet said what he remembers most about the journey are the long bus rides at night through Mexico.

“Whenever I smell the diesel smell, it reminds me of being four and going on the start of this big epic trip with my mom,” said Blanquet.