This American Life host Ira Glass and producer Susan Burton spent a week in August recording a suburban Chicago youth group at every stage of their very first mission trip. The teenagers were from Covenant Presbyterian Church in Chicago.
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These teenagers are the children the Christian right has in mind when it holds conferences on what's at stake in America's culture war. On the fourteen-hour drive to West Virginia, we listen to the Backstreet Boys and talk about Dawson's Creek. One of the things that's so interesting about these teenagers is the odd mix of Christian and secular pop in their lives.
The teenagers arrive in West Virginia and take a look around.
Hardships begin. Their leader gets sick.
One great thing about staying in a camp of 130 other Christians is the much-better-than-in-school chance of meeting a nice, cute Christian boy.
The teenagers try to get to know the locals, without a lot of success.
Some improvements in their missionary work.
True stories of what happens when children are allowed to bring nature's own creatures into the house as pets. When it comes to rodents, fish and amphibians, it often works out badly...for the pets.
Reporter Mark Arax spent three years investigating the murder of his father and yet he's still not at peace when he thinks of his dad's death. (His book is called In My Father's Name: A Family, a Town, a Murder.) This is how it goes sometimes.
Barbara Clinkscales grew up in Chicago's public housing projects, had her first child when she was 15, and is now—over two decades later—struggling to get her teenage son to finish his senior year of high school. Barbara is a working mom, with a network of close friends who look out for her.
Barbara's story continues, as she hears some terrible news about her son.
Writer/Comedian Amanda Marks shares the story of a couple that didn't fall in love, didn't get together, didn't form a future. Then coincidence and fate kick in...confusingly.
On the tenth anniversary of the crackdown at Tiananmen Square, we hear from Wen Huang, who was part of the student movement. He says that the students weren't fighting for democracy, at least not as it's been widely understood in the West.
If part of the impulse behind the Tiananmen Square uprising was the pure desire to feel like life had possibility, that the future had potential...that impulse was behind another movement. This one among young people in Eastern Europe back before the Berlin Wall fell.
Since the high school shootings in Littleton, Colorado, parents and teachers are looking for warning signs that the children in their lives might suddenly strike out. But the dividing line between normal childhood aggression and social pathology can be hard to spot.
There's the pretending we do as individuals, and there's the organized pretending that happens in group therapy sessions, in the roleplaying games that are done in some clinical settings. Jack Hitt tells the story of the Mother of All Roleplaying Games.