Section: Features

Koto Katayama ’23 launches Overseas Overheard podcast

The divide between domestic and international students at Kenyon is palpable, according to film major Koto Katayama ’23, an international student from Tokyo, Japan. With her podcast Overseas Overheard, Katayama hopes to bridge that divide by facilitating discourse between a diverse array of college students. On each episode, two students — one international and one domestic — are paired together to have a casual conversation about anything ranging from Kenyon drama to the Kardashians. 

Katayama received inspiration for her podcast from a screenplay she wrote last year which centered around a college student’s podcast. After writing the screenplay, Katayama believed Overseas Overheard was the natural next step. “The idea for the podcast actually happened immediately after I wrote the script,” she said. “I had no intention of making a podcast myself, but it actually happened!” 

Her idea became a reality when Katayama reached out to Kenyon’s Anti-Racism Advisory Committee, which helps allocate the College’s resources to anti-racism initiatives. The committee approved her proposal and collaborated with the Department of Dance, Drama and Film to purchase equipment for the podcast. Though Overseas Overheard is funded through Kenyon, Katayama felt it would be impossible for the College to attach its name to the podcast, as it provides such an intimate look at the lives of Kenyon students. “One guest spoke about their Kenyon breakup and another sort of ‘exposed’ the swim team. But the whole point of the podcast is to inspire raw and honest conversations, so we couldn’t help but put those things in the podcast as well,” she said.

On the podcast’s latest episode, Katayama altered the podcast’s structure, pairing up two international students from different universities: international studies major Raul Romero ’22 from Venezuela and Columbia University student Joon Baek ’21 from South Korea. The two spoke about their respective advocacy against Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) attempt to force international students out of the country, as well as Baek’s transition back to university after serving in the Korean army. By exhibiting the initiatives of a non-Kenyon student, such as Baek’s endorsement of courses specifically for international students, Katayama hoped that Kenyon listeners would ponder how an outside perspective might influence life on campus. “My ultimate goal with this episode was to open up some conversations between students about how Kenyon could implement some of Columbia’s ideas, and vice versa,” she said. 

Katayama hopes the podcast will educate Kenyon’s domestic students about cultures outside the United States, an opportunity she gained in taking both sociology and religious studies courses at Kenyon. Katayama expects to pass on knowledge about cultures outside of the United States and Japan through Overseas Overheard. “By listening to individuals and understanding how they grew up, how their different experiences influence them, I hope to affect listeners in the same way I’ve been [affected].”

Most importantly, Katayama highlights that her podcast provides a safe space for open conversation from both parties. “The podcast provides a platform for international students to share their stories, as well as a space for domestic students to feel comfortable asking questions. I encourage interviewees to ask any question about different cultures, no matter how afraid they are to be wrong,” she said. 

You can listen to Overseas Overheard on Spotify, iTunes or Apple Podcasts. Those interested in being on the show can reach Katayama through the Instagram account @overseas.overheard.

 

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