America can be a fractured place — society splintered by skin color, religion, country of origin, native tongue, immigrant versus native, citizen versus non-citizen. One of our great preoccupations has been to mend these fissures while defining our uniquely American cultural identity. My Journey Home traverses the landscape of cultural identity, following three new American
voices — Armando Peña, writer Faith Adiele, and journalist Andrew Lam.
My Journey Home, a two-hour documentary produced by WETA Washington, D.C., airs Wednesday, April 7 at 9 p.m. ET on PBS stations nationwide. (Check local listings.) The program follows Adiele, Lam and Peña as they travel to their ancestral homelands. Their stories are deeply personal, revealing biographies at turns thought-provoking, humorous and emotionally devastating. My Journey Home probes America's diversity through Adiele, Lam and Peña's
personal histories of buried pasts, mixed heritages, missing fathers and broken dreams.
Adiele is an award-winning writer, exploring topics such as identity, culture, travel and spirituality. Her body of published articles, stories, and essays reflect her pursuit of personal understanding, growth, healing and forgiveness. Adiele grew up as the only bi-racial child in the small town of Sunnyside, Washington. Raised by her Scandinavian-American mother, she longed to meet her absent father. He left America soon after her birth with a promise to return. What had become of him after the civil war in his native Nigeria? Adiele travels to Africa to find her father and discovers more than she ever dreamed or bargained for. Pursuing the human longing to heal the wounds of childhood and family, Adiele is writing two books, the first to be released this spring, that relate and share her personal explorations and uncommon journeys.
Andrew Lam is a journalist and writer who chronicles the immigrant experiences of others while struggling to come to terms with his own. He first saw America through the chain-link fence of a relocation camp. It was in stark contrast to the life of privilege and respect his family enjoyed when he was a boy in Vietnam. His father, a South Vietnamese Army general, gathered his family and fled just before the fall of Saigon in 1975. Returning now to his boyhood home, Lam searches for and finds relatives left behind, and he finds himself haunted by deep sadness, guilt, and irretrievable loss. Lam discovers he is Vietnamese but no longer at home in Vietnam, American but never completely at home in America. He struggles for an elusive sense of belonging and peace.
Armando Peña is one of seven brothers from an ordinary family that has weathered extraordinary times. Their shared history has been shrouded in mystery and painful emotion. What led to their father's disappearance when they were boys growing up poor in the Rio Grande Valley? Was their father, like a million other Mexican-Americans, deported during the 1954 "Operation Wetback?" Did he simply walk away, abandoning his wife and children? Armando and his brother Carlos, now grown with families of their own, climb into a van and set out on a road trip in search of answers. Among the items they carefully pack is the urn that holds their late mother's ashes. Bound by love and loyalty to her, they travel America, visiting scattered family on their way to interring their mother's ashes. Along the way, they uncover family secrets and struggle to come to terms with truths they hadn't pondered.
My Journey Home is a production of WETA Washington, D.C. The program was produced by Renee Tajima- Peña and Lourdes Portillo; the co-executive producer is Renee Tajima-Peña; and WETA executive producers are Dalton Delan and Jeff Bieber.
Corporate funding for My Journey Home is provided by Farmers Insurance. Funding is also provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and Latino Public Broadcasting. Additional funding is provided by the Rockefeller Foundation and Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.