America, My Home essays represented a wide range of ethnic minorities. The young people's personal stories shed light on the challenges and rewards of being an immigrant and making America their home. The three national winners' cultural heritages represented China, Bangladesh, and India. Their entries were broadcast on WETA and posted to the national project Web site. In addition, local public television stations, along with their community partners, held screening events to preview the My Journey Home documentary, which were followed by community discussions that focused on issues relevant to immigration.
Station outreach personnel commented on the strong connection between the documentary and outreach efforts. The stories in the documentary were powerful examples of individuals struggling with their dual identities and living and embracing dual cultures. This resonated with high school and community college students who felt, in many cases for the first time, that someone else felt as they did.
The stories in the documentary were a catalyst for students to find their voices and share, through the essays, their experiences with prejudice and cultural misunderstandings and of immigrating to a new country.
The community screenings and discussions helped many immigrants who attended to become aware of and to access a variety of immigrant service organizations such as the National Immigration Forum and African Immigrant and Refugee Foundations; student support organizations such as Latin American Student Organizations and ESOL classes; and the Councils of Latino, Chinese, or Islam.
Many stations were able to forge new relationships with their community college systems. Outreach manager Beth Isaacs at WSIU/Carbondale, Ill., submitted her grant proposal as a pilot project to work with 40 community colleges in WSIU's viewing area. Beth said, "This outreach project is the perfect vehicle for WSIU to begin our long-awaited goal of developing a working relationship with our community college system with an educational project that will benefit us both." WSIU worked with college instructors and the media departments on the essay competition.