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1637 N. Ashland Ave
Chicago, IL 60622


Street-Level Youth Media is a non-profit, media arts literacy organization serving Chicago's youth.  We teach audio engineering, mixing, video production, digital photography, online journalism, and more.  If you are between the ages of 12 through 24, all of our programs and services are free.

If you live in Chicago and are between 12 - 24 years old, come take part in one or all of our media arts programs, book a private studio session, use our computer lab or join one of our clubs.  We also host an open-mic on the first Friday of each month.  

Merging Two Worlds: Life in Mexico and the U.S.

Mild Sauce

A Youth-Run Webzine From Chicago.

Merging Two Worlds: Life in Mexico and the U.S.



By Susannah Mitchell  

Mexico and the United States are two entirely different worlds. At least, to Lisette Martinez, they are. Martinez’s family immigrated to the U.S. more than 20 years ago, first to Arizona, and then to Chicago. Currently, most of Martinez’s family lives together in the Brighton Park neighborhood.

The contrast between Mexico and the U.S. is prevalent in Martinez’s life, but it’s the differences in culture that are the most apparent to Martinez. From the tortillas they sell at the grocery store to the attitudes of the people outside of her family, she’s noticed several disparities.

One example of this is the holiday of Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead. Typically celebrated from October 31 to November 2, the Mexican holiday is intended to honor the lives of lost loved ones. The neighborhood of Pilsen, which is close to where Martinez’s family lives, holds several celebrations each year for the holiday.These include parades, festivals, balls and more, where Chicago residents can participate in the holiday by dressing up, painting their faces or creating memorials for the deceased.

Dia de los Muertos is a widely-celebrated holiday in Mexico, however, it is not as commonly celebrated in the U.S. But neighborhoods across the U.S., like Pilsen, host large populations of Mexican immigrants and Americans of Mexican heritage who are trying to make this part of their culture more active in America. And it’s because of this blend of cultures, the differences between them and Martinez’s close ties to her family, both in the U.S. and in Mexico, that she decided to make a podcast about her family’s experience.

Martinez started off by brainstorming ideas. Once she’d picked her podcast topic, she began interviewing her family members and recording sounds, such as traditional Mexican music, to help the transitions between interviews. After that, she began the editing process and had everything finished within a week.

The editing was the hardest part of the process, according to Martinez. Puzzling every piece of audio together to make everything sound right was difficult, and she wasn’t very experienced using the computers provided by Street-Level Youth Media or the editing software. Even though Martinez said that she was shaky in the beginning, by the time she finished her podcast she’d gotten the hang of everything.

Recording the podcast, interviewing and being interviewed were all new experiences for Martinez and her family. During the interviewing process Martinez found out information about her grandmother that she hadn’t known, such as her grandmother being unable to focus in school when she was younger because she was always hungry. Martinez found that learning information like this, and being able to speak casually with her family, were what made the interviewing aspect of podcasting easy and fun.

Grandmasmile      Heribertha Hernandez, photo by Daniel MarquesKitchen         Lisette Martinez, Heribertha Hernandez, photo by Daniel MarquesShrine

Photo by Daniel Marques

By listening to her podcast, Martinez hopes to inform listeners about Mexican culture and what it is like to be a part of a different culture. She wants her work to help others consider something different, and to open them up to a new world.