Wednesday, May 30, 2018

S1E19: "A Life Changing Experience. Period."

This brings us to the end of Season 1 of We Are EG.  On this special episode we celebrate the Japanese Exchange Program and the coordinator of the program for the last 29 years, Cliff Darnall, who will be retiring this year. Many familiar voices can be heard including retired EGHS teacher Ralph Scalise and recently graduated student, Nicole Tabor. In addition, we sat down wth a few Japanese students and teachers to get their perspectives, too.

This podcast brings us full circle. Ryan Christie, a former EG student and participant of the Exchange Program, will be the new Japanese language teacher at Elk Grove in the Fall. He discusses the significance of this from his perspective.

The Japanese Exchange Program is a unique experience at Elk Grove High School and has touched countless lives--not just those who participated, but also family, community members, organizations and companies who lent support over the years.

Take a listen below.

The Japanese Exchange Program (JXP) would like to sincerely thank the following for their vital support of and contributions to our 30-year-old exchange, all of whom have helped make the program possible, welcoming, and/or deeply meaningful:
  • The administration, staff, students, and parent organizations of Ashidai (formerly Ashikodai) High School, Ashitandai High School, and Elk Grove High School
  • The hundreds of families who have hosted for the exchange on both sides of the Pacific, many of them more than once
  • The companies, organizations, and individuals who have generously contributed financial support over the years. A recent donor list can be found here.
  • The founders of the exchange: then Principal Leo Hundt and then Librarian Esther Perica in the U.S.; and the late Principal Hitoshi Sasaki, the late Principal Satoshi Kobayashi, and then Coordinator Terry Yamaguchi in Ashikaga
  • Exchange committee members at the three schools through the decades, including Mr. Yamaguchi, who served for almost 29 years before retiring, and current Japan-side Coordinator Hi-de Tsuru
  • Special individual supporters such as Shunichiro, Mitsuko, and Shin Kishioka; Kiyo and Yuko Shirataki; and JXP Parent Liaison and frequent host Linda Bauer
  • The Japan Information Center of the Japanese Consulate in Chicago

We invite you to visit the EGHS JXP website  or to follow us or contribute tweets at #EGHS_JXP.

About the music in this episode:

Madoka Ogitani provided two tracks: "Ibuki" and "Calmness." These tracks are courtesy of the Free Music Archive and licensed through a non-commercial Creative Commons 4.0 license.

Saya Asakura provided an instrumental version of her song アリャセ ヘイヤ~ ("Aryase Hayya") via a Royalty Free License. More information about Saya Asakura can be found at her website: . Her album can be found on iTunes.

S1E18 Bonus Episode: "We Believe in Your Neighbor Being Like Your Family"

When Maram Safi sat down to tell her story, we realized that she had so much to say, not just about her goals in engineering and technology, but also her life and Palestinian culture. We knew that her full story needed to be told. So we have produced a bonus episode of We Are EG, featuring Maram Safi, discussing her Palestinian culture.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

S1E18 "That's Just What I Want to Do When I Grow Up"

Navigating life in a new country and pursuing dreams––This is the story of many students at Elk Grove High School. It is the story of Maram Safi. In this episode Maram describes her unique challenges and dreams for the future, and how some special people and classes encouraged her along the way.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

S1E17 "She Was Such a Fighter!"

Alexa Rodheim Cutler touched the lives of students and staff as an English teacher at Elk Grove HS. She sadly passed away from breast cancer at the age of 29, yet her legacy lives on. Here, her last full class of students, now seniors ready to graduate, share their stories.
For more information on The Magnolia Tree Foundation and Alexa's life and legacy, visit their website at
While there are many students who were touched by Alexa's life, we want to thank the following students for sharing their stories: April, Billy, Estefania, Katie, Jazmin, Jesus, Nella, and Shirley.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

S1E16 "There Are So Many Amazing Things"

Senior Oscar Gonzalez is excited about his future career plan that opened up to him through the courses he took as part of District 214's Career Pathway Program. He reflects on both the academic and extracurricular experiences that made his four years at Elk Grove High School so memorable.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

S1E15: "Leave Your Legacy Here"

Nelson is on a mission to change the community.  Upon leaving junior high, he felt a new motivation to increase his engagement in both academics and activities.   He progressed so much academically that by his senior year, his schedule consists of seven Advanced Placement classes.  Nelson attributes this to the message that was given to him in the first day at EGHS, "Anyone can change".  He believes this sentiment wholeheartedly and wants others to know that they can always improve as well.

He has become heavily involved in Estudiantes Unidos, a group at Elk Grove High School focused on mentoring elementary and middle school students.  Started by 2017 Illinois State Teacher of the Year and EGHS Spanish teacher Ricky Castro, the group has expanded the weekly mentoring program to include the Oasis Summer Camp, where students (K-5) engage in reading, STEM, and sports activities led by high school students.  For more information on the camp, view this news segment from NBC.


The music in this podcast was provided by Scott Holmes via the Free Music Archive.  The following tracks were used in this podcast; check out their website for more music:

"Beyond Dreams" Scott Holmes (from Inspiring & Uplifting Music)

"We Made It" Scott Holmes (from Inspiring & Uplifting Music)

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

S1E14 "Each Student Has a Story and Each Story Should be Heard"

As a little girl who made her own classroom at home to teach her grandmother and stuffed animals, Jasmine Bautista discovered a passion for teaching others. Challenging times in elementary school might have extinguished her passion were it not for the connection with one special person who helped her believe in herself and follow her dreams.

Epilogue: On the day before we released this episode, just as we were about to make our final edits, Jasmine stopped by to share an update. That morning she had just received news from National Louis University, a partner with District 214's Educator Prep Program, that would make her dream even more possible. Listen after the credits to learn how!

A 5th grader shares an update on his project with
Jasmine and Nicola Avena at Rupley Elementary School

Jasmine and Nicola reflect on the day with their awesome students.

Reunited - now as teaching partners!