Whatever we have given up in the pandemic (and that’s A LOT) there is an abundance of creativity and imagination on the other side of the ledger that can lift us up, reassure us, and make us smile or even laugh on days when “upbeat” may seem a notion from a distant past.
When Gov. Baker officially closed public schools for the remainder of the year, Jordan Vinh felt the pain along with his classmates and decided to use his recently inaugurated podcast as a means of reaching out to them. His “Dear Class of 2020” podcast was excerpted by John Krasinski for a special graduation episode of his YouTube show, Some Good News (SGN). SGN began with a Tweet from Krasinski asking followers to send him stories that “made you feel good this week or made you smile”. Thousands responded. A collage of heartwarming and funny original videos make up the bulk of the show with Krasinski as emcee. Episode 6 is earmarked for 2020 graduates of every age and is both light-hearted and inspiring.
In the excerpt from Vinh’s podcast which SGN included he says, “In my experience, the strongest people are always those who have experienced the worst and come out on top anyway.” Asked about the events in his life that informed this conclusion, Vinh referenced his mother’s struggle with breast cancer. “My mother suffered a lot, but I could see that she also grew from it. Her spirit is stronger than ever.”
Vinh’s entry into podcasting began with the lock-down as he found himself spending a lot of time on social media and observing that much of the interaction was negative. There was a lot of speculation that the virus would “never go away” or was perhaps part of some darker conspiracy. “I decided I wanted to do something to influence people to be more positive.” He hit on the idea of a podcast as a means of sharing his perspective not only on the virus but on other issues as well. He had no prior experience with podcasting and some of his friends were unsure about the idea, but he decided to give it a try. He posted his first one on March 19th on Instagram, a roughly four-minute introduction in which he admitted he was not entirely sure what direction the podcast would take. He told his first viewers: “A lot of people may say, what is this? Honestly, I have no idea. I’ll try to get better as I go. Give me your feedback.”
Feedback has been favorable and Vinh has kept up a regular podcast schedule.
Originally, he thought he could post daily but found that a bit daunting. Now he uploads three times a week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday on both Instagram and YouTube. Consistent with his theme of “positivity”, topics have ranged widely from his experiences as a person with significant food allergies (Episode 4) to memories of childhood shared with his sister which includes a problematic attempt to hang a new TV on the wall (Episode 3) to a rambling monologue on what he is looking forward to as a new college freshman (Episode 7). All are delivered in a rapid-fire and often humorous riff. Most episodes end with a more serious thought which pulls disparate elements together into a meaningful takeaway. For example, when talking about his food allergies Jordan offers funny asides as if talking to friends who may tease him about these sensitivities but notes at the conclusion that he has never had anyone ask him what it is actually like to live with these kinds of dietary restrictions. “Don’t avoid talking about these things. Consider taking some steps to make [people] feel accepted as they are.”
Vinh was unaware his podcast had been noticed by the SGN team until a friend saw it and alerted him. “I was very surprised and excited,” he said.
Jordan is off to the University of Michigan in the fall to study biomedical engineering. In the meantime, depending on how/when the stay-at-home is lifted, he hopes to be working for the summer at Callahan’s Karate. Jordan has been a contributing writer to Student Voices @ The Bedford Citizen, most recently talking about his work with The Don Bosco Orphanage in Mexico.