I Left My Stomach In Tijuana
From KPBS and PRX… This… is Port of Entry… Where we tell cross-border stories… That connect us. Soy Alan Lilienthal. BEAT *** Tanzania On Modeling Clip 2 To be around people that are also creatives and understand, what it means to, to create art it's amazing. And it's the best feeling in the world. This is Tanzania Brown. She's a plus-size model. BEAT Tanzania On Modeling Clip 4 Getting your makeup done, getting your look together...there's always music and talk and conversation and it's usually always just a lot of laughter. Tanzania is also a body-positivity influencer on Instagram who’s working to grow her audience by posting these really creative and eye-catching photos of herself…. Tanzania On Modeling Clip 5 It's just a really cool time where you get to, you know, just be yourself and enjoy yourself. So to me, that's the beautiful experience of a photo shoot. Tanzania recorded this audio diary... We asked her to tell us more about what it’s like to do what she does… To put herself... and her bigger body out there...proudly….in front of an audience that has, for waaaaay too long, been groomed to equate thin bodies with beautiful bodies. Tanzania On Modeling Clip 1 To me being on set of a photo shoot is my happy place…. BEAT But…. Just as Tanzania’s plus-size modeling career was taking off... Her health started falling apart. Tanzania YouTube Videos Clip 9 One night. Um, I woke up and I couldn't breathe….and I felt like my throat was very, like tight and acidy... BEAT Transition So... in recent years, Tanzania got up to her heaviest weight ever… 376 pounds. And she started experiencing these really intense bouts of sleep apnea where she’d wake up gagging… Tanzania YouTube Video Clip 27 I couldn't talk, I couldn't do anything. I couldn't scream…. Sleep apnea makes people briefly stop breathing at night...sometimes several times a night. It’s common among people who are overweight... Experiences like the one Tanzania is describing...were happening to her all the time... Tanzania YouTube Videos Clip 9 My throat just felt so brittle. And I was trying, I ran to the bathroom and I was trying to throw up and everything and just green was coming out and….it scared me. BEAT Tanzania YouTube Videos Clip 12 With the sleep apnea and everything, I was terrified. I didn't feel comfortable falling asleep at night because I was just scared that I would have this experience again of waking up and not being able to breathe and dying. And it terrified me. So I was like, nah, there's gotta be another solution. The solution….Tanzania decided….was weight-loss surgery. Tanzania YouTube Videos Clip 13 I started doing my research and then actually one of my friends, she opened up and she shared that she was gonna have the bariatric surgery and she was doing hers in Mexico. So I live in San Diego. I live like...20 minutes away from Mexico. So once she shared that, I was like: interested. BEAT But… Here’s the thing.. Tanzania is part of the body positivity community on Instagram… And their whole vibe is to accept and love your body… Just the way it is...big….small or whatever… So, weight loss surgery? Generally speaking, the body positivity crowd is not into it… And Tanzania hasn’t quite figured out yet how she wants to share her weight-loss journey with her followers…. She’s afraid of how they’ll react….especially after Tanzania saw the backlash from a post by plus-size pop icon Lizzo… BEAT Tanzania Pre Interview Clip 36 She went on Instagram. And she posted like, “Oh, I lost 10 pounds in like three days from exercising.” And she did like a tick tock of her, like working out or whatever, and seeing everyone in that group and people that weren't in that group, shun her for that...They like really went in on her... BEAT Today in “Port of Entry”... We’re continuing our series on medical tourism at the border…. With a story about Tanzania going to Tijuana for more affordable bariatric surgery so she could lose weight quickly and stop feeling like she was dying in her sleep every night. It’s a story about the intersection of beauty and health… And how this young, ambitious woman is working hard to carve out her own corner of the internet… by justifying her surgery….helping to create a space where she, and other people like her, can fit in….No matter what size or shape or how they got there. Estaremos de vuelta. MIDROLL 1 BEAT Ya estamos de regreso. *** When Tanzania was just five years old… She started showing signs of puberty. She was developing way too early, so her doctor prescribed the birth control shot known as Depo-Provera… It’s an injection that contains the hormone progestin and one known side effect of the shot is weight gain. Tanzania says she immediately started packing on extra pounds and has been plus-sized ever since. BEAT Tanzania Pre Interview Clip 3 And it definitely made me like insecure, you know, going to school and everything. I would say I was kind of like bullied and stuff because of it. Tanzania Pre Interview Clip 5 It was just like the constant thing of like, if….I don't know if someone was upset with me or didn't like me, the only thing, you know, people can use against you is the fact that you're fat. You become, I don't know if you can curse on here or not, but you become the fat B-word you become, um, anything having to deal with fat. That was like what you were called out for. So it was stuff like that. So. Yeah. BEAT Tanzania Pre Interview Clip 6 But...as I grew up, I did realize that I held it in internally. And, I would find myself, um, dealing with depression, um, not knowing why I would just cry out of nowhere and everything, but I think it was just like all the buildup of all of that, um, dealing with it for years and everything and just being hurt. BEAT FADE But...alongside all the hurt and pain that was building up inside... Tanzania also started growing this fierce, unbreakable confidence, sorta in reaction to all the bullying… BEAT She started seeing herself as beautiful, and she wanted the world to see it, too. BEAT Three years ago, a designer friend of hers asked if she’d model some of her clothing… Tanzania said yes and... Tanzania Pre Interview Clip 4 Since then, I haven't stopped . I enjoy it. It's something that I really look forward to, um, all the time now it's, it's fun and yeah, made me love myself even more and everything. So. BEAT When Tanzania is in front of the camera… She comes alive and really shines… On Instagram, she posts photos of herself in swimsuits at the beach… Videos of her dancing in lingerie… She’s even got this series of photos of her wearing nothing but honey… BEAT And...slowly but surely… The instagram crowd is responding. Tanzania’s got 5,000 followers and counting. She’s even starting to get paid for some of her posts. Tanzania Pre Interview Clip 38 So I actually just became, uh, ambassador with Savage X Fenty, like two months ago. That, by the way, is famed pop singer Rihanna's lingerie brand… BEAT FADE But Tanzania says that even more important than those paid partnerships... is the body positivity community she’s been able to connect with through Instagram. She gets lots of DMs from other plus-size women from around the world.. They reach out to thank her for what she’s doing… Tanzania Pre Interview Clip 8 One of the messages I just received recently was like from a girl who was just like, “I was dealing with body confidence issues” and she even told me like she was suicidal at one point and she came across my profile and, um, just seeing me be me, I guess, helped her and everything. So that made me super emotional. BEAT Tanzania Pre Interview Clip 8 Yeah... even just talking about it, it gets me all shaky, but it's crazy just to hear people say like that you can inspire them in that way just by being yourself and, you know, seeing like a body that's like, like yours. Tanzania Pre Interview Clip 12 So. Just having people in your corner like that who are just really there and, you know, support you when, you know, see the good in you. So... BEAT FADE But at the same time she was getting lots of praise for her body…. That same body was starting to create lots of problems. Her sleep apnea caused by her weight was getting really bad… But Tanzania kept putting off seeing a doctor… Because every time she’d gone in the past, she says it was the same old story… Over and over again…. Tanzania Pre Interview Clip 18 Anytime I went, the whole thing would become a, Oh, you're severely obese, you're fat, which I know, you know, doctors are telling you for a reason, but, um, I just didn't go. But Tanzania’s sleep apnea was getting so severe, it really started to freak her out. And her fear of dying? …..it eventually grew bigger than her fear of doctors… So... she finally got checked out. Tanzania Pre Interview Clip 39 And they decided to do a sleep test on me and I did it. And before they called me back with the result, I like woke up one night and I was like, choking. Really bad. Like I thought I was going to die. BEAT The test results showed that Tanzania had stopped breathing during her sleep ….nearly 80 times. The bouts were interrupting her sleep so often that she got severely sleep deprived. And found herself falling asleep in random places throughout the day… Tanzania Pre Interview Clip 41 I was even like falling asleep behind the wheel. Like, when I was at a stop sign, like at stoplights, like nodding out. And it was just, it was just really bad and really scary. And my family was worried too. So I was just like, I need to, I need to get myself together. Not just for me, but for them as well. Tanzania Pre Interview Clip 40 So right then and there, I was like, I need to do something. They said one of the ways to get rid of it would be to lose weight. BEAT Losing weight though…...is hard and it didn’t seem possible to her. She tried it many times through dieting and exercise...lose 20/30 pounds then plateau and then gain it right back. And it takes a ton of time and Tanzania wanted the gagging during her sleep….and the falling asleep at the wheel to stop immediately: she felt like her life depended on it. So, she started looking into bariatric surgery…. Specifically, getting a gastric sleeve… which removes most of the stomach and you can drop hundreds of pounds really fast… Her insurance probably would have covered the cost of it in the U.S… But….right out of the gate, Tanzania hit lots of other barriers. BEAT Transition Tanzania Pre Interview Clip 21 They have a long process to even be able to speak to a bariatric surgeon. And because I hadn't, been to the doctor in many, many years. They were like, you need to first go see a gynecologist. You need to go, um, do these other studies, you need to first try to, you know, meet with a nutritionist. You need to take these classes. You need to do all this stuff. And it was like a long process to where, and because of COVID, it could have tooken a couple of years to even be able to speak to a surgeon. And for me, when I'm waking up almost, I mean, feeling like I'm about to die and being home alone and everything. And I was just like, I don't want to wait. BEAT Fade So...instead of waiting... Tanzania turned….to Tijuana. Tanzania Pre Interview Clip 13 The border! Yes. [laughts] BEAT Like lots of San Diegans, crossing the border is something she does all the time…for all sorts of reasons. BEAT Tanzania Pre Interview Clip 13 So, I started going to TJ when I was 18. So it's been about 10 years now. Dang. That was a long time ago. Okay. I used to go just for like partying and stuff. The first time I went, it was for my best friend's sister's birthday. I go pretty often, um, down to Rosarito or just to TJ. I’ve done, like dentist appointments, done... just to eat. I've stayed the night at friend's houses who live there. Tanzania Pre Interview Clip 14 My favorite part about Mexico is I don't know, the getaway feeling. Um, I mean, I know it's just across the border, but I just love going to the beaches down there, eating fruit on the beach, uh, riding horses, eating tacos. Tacos are my favorite food, so. I just love being over there. Everything's great. People are nice. It just feels new to me. BEAT FADE CDC Warning Clip 1 The CDC has issued a strong warning for people who traveled to Mexico for weight loss procedures. After people across the country became sick from getting these surgeries, BEAT When it comes to crossing the border for medical procedures…especially bariatric surgery, which comes with a long list of possible complications... Horror stories are everywhere…. Back in 20-19 a superbug infected nearly a dozen Americans who got weight-loss surgery in Tijuana…. Which prompted that warning from the Center for Disease Control…. You can find all kinds of other stories about botched weight-loss and cosmetic surgeries in Tijuana… BEAT CDC Warning Clip 2 It's a cheap and easy way to go, but it can come with the costliest price. A 33 year old mother of two from magnet needed to get her weight down because of a host of medical problems. But that decision nearly killed her. I was so sick. Nobody. I think even the doctors didn't think that I would make it through the surgery. BEAT But for Tanzania, and lots of people like her… The benefits of the quicker, more affordable weight-loss surgery in Tijuana, outweigh the risks. BEAT Fade Tanzania Pre Interview Clip 42 So for me, it was just like, a done, done deal. WELEFTOURSTOMACHSINTIJUANA We left our stomachs in Tijuana, Mexico. Um, for those of you that don't know, I'm Teresa I'm the admin, um, Sue Jones is also my co admin. Hi Sue. So….this is a video post in a Facebook group called “We left our stomachs in TJ, Mexico,” Facebook groups like this one actually play a big role in medical tourism at the border. Lots of people, mostly women, use the groups to get doctor and clinic recommendations… We left Our Stomachs Clip 2 We had weight loss surgery, a lot of us. In Mexico, um, with a doctor that's American board certified, which I highly recommend if you're going to do it in Mexico, please be careful. There, there are some bad situations that can go on. So...Tanzania did her research. But mostly, she ended up relying on the word-of-mouth recommendation from a friend of hers who had just gotten weight-loss surgery in Tijuana. Then in August, 2020, Tanzania went to the same clinic as her friend… And she was impressed enough that she put down a $500 deposit and booked her surgery. BEAT On Nov. 28, 2020… The day after Thanksgiving and right at the start of a huge hike in Covid cases on both sides of the border…. A jittery Tanzania crossed through the Port of Entry and checked herself into the clinic in Tijuana. Tanzania Pre Interview Clip 23 Honestly, didn't feel scared. Um, up until the day of, um So I wasn't nervous until that morning of, um, they made me get in a wheelchair and then they willed me in a room. It was like changed into this gown and, you know, get back in the wheelchair. And then they wheeled me into this room that looked like a dungeon. It was just like four gray walls and all the equipment on the table. And then there was like six people in there, you know, getting ready to operate for you. And it was that, that made me super nervous, but once they hooked the gas up, I was out. BEAT Fade When Tanzania woke up after the surgery… She did not feel good… It’s a major procedure and she’d been warned by the doctors and nurses that the first few weeks after the operation would be the toughest... Tanzania YouTube Videos Clip 17 So I just felt like I was dying. Second day was hard too, um, in the hospital. This is Tanzania in a video she made of herself documenting her experience those first few days post-surgery. Tanzania YouTube Videos Clip 16 I tried calling my, my family that night and I called ‘em, but I was like passing out on the phone with them because I was so like, out of it, I remember my friends, they were just like, you were so pale. I never seen a black girl so pale before. I didn't know we could get pale. [laughs] I was really pale. Like they took screenshots of me on their phone. Tanzania YouTube Videos Clip 17 The issue was that you have so much gas, they leave like some gas in your stomach, um, after the surgery. And so, like, I just felt all the pressure on my chest and on my stomach of gas. Um, and it was there, and the way to get it off was to walk it out and toot…. BEAT After just a few days in the clinic in Tijuana, she crossed back to San Diego and finished her recovery there. Tanzania YouTube Videos Clip 18 I came home ...the first couple of days at home were really hard. I stayed at my mom's and...My family, they tried to make it super comfortable for me, but I was legit crying. I was just like what did I do to myself? Why did I do this? BEAT Transition So, the two weeks following the surgery were just pure hell for Tanzania. She could only drink pureed food, and even then, just a tiny bit. BEAT Tanzania Pre Interview Clip 43 Legit, the first couple of weeks, it was so hard . I felt everything like any, like swallow of your spit of your like drink or anything, you felt everything. Like, it just felt like a sharp knife, like going down to your stomach. And it was just always really uncomfortable at first. But I did have those days where I was just like miserable and I was just like crying, like, why did I do this to myself? BEAT Slowly, though, she got more and more used to her new stomach…. And she graduated from purees to real food… But, again, not much...mostly protein shakes and tiny snacks...like a handful of peanuts... six times a day…. Tanzania Pre Interview Clip 27 Like right now, I'm only supposed to eat, um, like three ounces per meal. BEAT Three ounces, by the way, is a teeny tiny amount...picture...like…. a small can of tuna...We’re talking smaller than your fist….that’s the size of Tanzania’s stomach now. BEAT Alright...we gotta take a quick break…But when we come back... We hop in Tanzania’s car and cross the border with her as she checks her progress at the Tijuana clinic. Volveremos en unos minutos. MIDROLL 2 Y ... estamos de vuelta. *** BEAT Tanzania In Tijuana Clip 7 Kinsee: We're in Mexico. We’re in Mexico. We just crossed, um, traffic isn't bad. We’ll be at the medical place just in a second. On a hot day back in April, my producer Kinsee Morlan met up with Tanzania. Tanzania In Tijuana Clip 7 It’s legit like two minutes in. So like, we're going to go over this bridge and we quickly got a turn, so I've got to kind of cut people. It's legit, like right when you cross over, there's like more lanes that are going to come in and we've got to kind of just like cut them off and like, Kinsee: Well, don't let me get in your way. No, you're good. Tanzania was about five months out from her surgery… But she was still driving across the border every other week for follow-up appointments with a nutritionist at the clinic. And… she was still struggling to get used to her new diet. BEAT FADE Tanzania In Tijuana Clip 4 It’s mainly supposed to be like snacking, I think like six times a day, three or four ounce mills. Um, three or four outside. Kinsee: Whoa. It's so tiny. It is. I'm that full after a couple of bites. Wow. So it's a little frustrating, but I mean, I don't need the food, so it’s cool. Kinsee: So you're mostly like what, 90% happy with results so far? Yeah, I'm, I'm, I'm loving the results. Like I can definitely feel the difference and see the difference. Um, I'm excited about it…... BEAT Getting a gastric sleeve isn’t just a one-and-done type thing… It’s a total lifestyle change and most patients need a lot of followup help from nutritionists and even psychologists or psychiatrists to adjust to their new lives and bodies. Tanzania In Tijuana Clip 8 So that's the building right there. Kinsee: The white one, right? So now you just have to cut over five lanes of traffic, like a boss. Sorry, thankfully, this wasn't that bad this time, but gee, sometimes it's scary. Kinsee: Whew. We did it. Yes we did. Less than a minute’s drive into Tijuana. Tanzania pulled into a dirt parking lot across the street from the weight-loss clinic… A parking attendant took her keys and parked her car... Tanzania In Tijuana Clip 10 Kinsee: Hello, how are you? Como estas? Then she and Kinsee walked across the street to a futuristic-looking, white building. Tanzania In Tijuana Clip 9 It's kind of like the cute building on the block. Kinsee: It’s like what, like seven stories? It's like seven stories and it's all medical. Um, only the third floor is for like the gastric surgeries. Um, each floor has like a different like cosmetic surgery that they do. So yeah, it's, it's really nice inside, but you'll see Kinsee: yeah, it looks like a white wave. Yeah. Super modern and fancy. Super. The elevator was broken that day, so Tanzania and Kinsee walked up several flights of stairs on a spiral staircase that twists up through the center of the building. Tanzania In Tijuana Clip 13 Okay. My workout for the day. Kinsee: Whew. This is how they make sure their gastric patients lose an extra 10 pounds. Right. Kinsee: Whew. The full cost for the surgery and all the checkups Tanzania’s done is about $3,400. And she says she feels like that low price did not come with low quality. Tanzania In Tijuana Clip 19 Here, they were checking on me constantly. They were walking with me. They were, you know, checking my hydration. They were asking me if I was okay. Like it was, it was a lot of care. Um, they did a really great job here. I love it….here. [Laughs] After about a half hour wait, Tanzania got called back to meet with her nutritionist. BEAT Transition Tanzania In Tijuana Clip 32 Nurse: Tanzania? Hi, how are you? As she walked back to the office… Her pants actually started sorta falling off because of all the weight she’s lost and how quickly she’s lost it... Tanzania In Tijuana Clip 33 And this is crazy because this is one of my newer staff. I'm not spending that much money on clothes. Cause I keep having to like Kinsee: buy new ones Yeah and this it's like a Walmart, $2 legging section. Kinsee: That's probably what you should do for like the next two years or something. Seriously. Nutritionist: She Looks good. I like it. Thank you. Thank you so much….. Tanzania In Tijuana Clip 35 Nutritionist: We're gonna check your weight ok? Kinsee: Are you nervous or just excited? I'm scared. This is kilograms Okay. One to seven pounds is like that. Yeah. Oh, wow. Why? Kinsee: Nice. That’s good, right? What are you thinking right now? That I'm close to the hundred pounds. Like by three pounds. Kinsee: Oh my God. That's amazing. Yeah, now I just need to keep working out. So yeah...Tanzania has lost nearly 100 pounds since she first started her weight-loss journey. BEAT After weighing in...the nutritionist gave Tanzania a new diet plan. Then, a few minutes later… She and Kinsee were headed back to the car, then to the San Ysidro Port of Entry to cross back to the U.S. BEAT As they walked outside…. They saw a bus parked in front of the clinic…. A bunch of older white folks with their suitcases were getting off of it….they were clearly medical tourists there to get their own procedures done. Tanzania In Tijuana Clip 40 They're probably all flown in from somewhere out of the United States Kinsee: Oh yeah… and they came and they're all getting their surgeries like today or tomorrow. Once they crossed the street and Tanzania tipped the guardacoche a few bucks for watching her car… It was time to head back across the border and home to San Diego… BEAT FADE Tanzania In Tijuana Clip 42 Kinsee: Yeah, I guess we’ll see how far back the line is. I hope it’s not far. Kinsee: Me too. I want to be back already, I’m tired. Kinsee: Yeah, that’s the worst part of crossing the border is crossing back. Yeah. Exactly. Tanzania In Tijuana Clip 43 OK. Right to the border line. Kinsee: And you know your way around, huh? Yeah, a little bit at least. Tanzania In Tijuana Clip 44 Kinsee: Here we go… Yeeeessss Kinsee: So you get in the border line right here still? Legit. Just right through this light. Kinsee: They really planned their location strategically, huh? Yeah, so convenient. Oh my gosh...noooo Kinsee: So, the line is far back. God dang it. See, I’m never doing an appointment this late again. Oh no. So...yeah...lol...the line to cross back from Tijuana to San Diego that day was suuuuper long. And as soon as they stopped, they got bombarded with border vendors….one offering fresh churros...and another persistent guy who really wanted to clean her windows... Tanzania In Tijuana Clip 44 Oh no, Nope, Nope, Nope, Nope, Nope, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, Nope, Nope, Nope, Nope, Nope, Nope, no, no. Thank you. BEAT Tanzania In Tijuana Clip 44 Kinsee: So how long do you think you’re in line today? I don’t even want to guess and jinx myself, no gracias…..maybe two hours...I hope not… BEAT FADE So Tanzania did eventually make it back to San Diego… And...she says she’s feeling great. But… She still has one pretty big problem. She’s dropping weight like crazy and a few of her Instagram followers have started noticing. BEAT So now….Tanzania...the Body Positivity Influencer...is worried that the one corner of the internet that really celebrates her body…. could turn on her as her body continues to change. Tanzania Pre Interview Clip 29 I like reached out to one of the mods, um, of the group. And I was just like, Hey, like I wanted to let you know that I am getting surgery, but you know, it was for health reasons, like in no way, am I trying to like promote surgery or anything, but, um, she was just immediately like, I'm against it. You know, one of my friends actually did it and they died from it during the surgery and stuff. And she was just like, you know, people in this community, don't like diet culture. And that's what this is. And I was just like, wow. Okay. BEAT Tanzania Pre Interview Clip 29 So I pretty much have kept quiet about it since then. I just am not putting it out there publicly right now. But I do want to eventually, just because I feel like even though, like, I am a part of that community, it's still is a part of my journey and it's who I am. Tanzania Pre Interview Clip 32 It's crazy. Cause like, even like a lot of the girls in the group, they have health issues, like big health issues, like, and they won't do it for themselves. And I'm just like, okay, well, if that's what you choose, that's you. But if I want to, you know, better my health for me and for my family and stuff, then that's me. And you should respect that. Tanzania Pre Interview Clip 30 if someone wants to fix something that they are internally dealing with and, then they should be able to do that. So, it's really difficult. [nervous laugh] Tanzania Pre Interview Clip 30 I honestly feel like if the body positive community, you know, has an issue with that, are they really body positive? BEAT By the way...we checked in with Tanzania right before this episode dropped… She was on vacation in Cabo San Lucas...her second vacation in Mexico in the last two months…she really loves it there... Anyway...she told us she still hasn’t worked up the nerve to share the news about her weight loss surgery with her Instagram followers... But… she said she’ll probably just end up using this episode as a conversation starter...a way to announce her news…. to the world. BEAT Next time on port of entry… A conversation with Phil Beaumont, lead singer of the San Diego band The Color Forty Nine. We talk about the music that shaped his life as a teenage British Expat living in California. Phil 36 Diversity in diff places the music in the early eighties for me, really opened my eyes to kind of, how wonderful it is to learn from everybody around us no? And how his love of travel and living in a border city has influenced his songwriting over the years. Phil 25 Travel and creativity just putting yourself in a different space. New ideas come. Phil 21 Love for travel to have an another country, right. 15, 17 minutes away from my house, um, is a wonderful opportunity. **** Port of Entry is written and produced by Kinsee Morlan. Emily Jankowski is the co-producer and director of sound design. Alisa Barba is our editor. Lisa Morissette is operations manager and John Decker is the interim associate general manager of content. This program is made possible (in part) by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people." I’m Alan Lilienthal… And hey, real quick...we’ve got a YouTube Live event coming up on June 23. For details and to get yourself registered, go to port of entry pod dot org.
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Port of Entry is a production of KPBS and PRX. It's written and produced by Kinsee Morlan. Emily Jankowski is the co-producer and director of sound design. Alisa Barba is our editor. Lisa Morrisette-Zapp is operations manager and John Decker is the interim associate general manager of content.
This program is made possible, in part, by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.