A Tallahassee teacher hopes his new podcast will help bridge political, personal and cultural divides
A Tallahassee teacher is looking beyond the classroom as he shares the stories of interesting people online.
"I'm Jose Paco Fiallos and I'm a teacher at Rickards High School."
Fiallos is by no means a newbie educator.
"I've been teaching here in the Leon County Schools for going on 18 years. I started at Lincoln High School and then transitioned to Rickards where I teach in the IB program there."
"IB" refers to the "International Baccalaureate" program. It essentially gives high school students college-level instruction in a number of subject areas. On top of keeping up a rigorous in-school instruction schedule, Fiallos has now jumped into the universe of podcasting.
"It's called 'Finlos Lives.' Finlos comes from a mispronunciation of my name. Some students often have difficulty with it."
He said his podcasts cover various topics.
"There are some themed shows that I have, one of them being 'Finlos Asks,' which is a podcast where I interview people from multicultural backgrounds. It's an intersectional podcast, meaning that I'm trying to meet people at the intersections of their various identities, whether they are immigrants from other countries or first-generation immigrants to the United States or former students who have now grown into their adult lives and are learning how to fit into where they are."
Fiallos considers these conversations among the most profound and important content on his podcasts; mainly because each story is totally unique.
"My goal ultimately is to remove myself from the process as much as possible and elevate their voices. Because not everybody has that opportunity to have that story heard."
Fiallos explained the process he uses to choose his interview subjects.
"As a teacher, thankfully, I do have quite a pool of candidates to pull from. Whether they be former co-workers or students, and through those networks, I'm able to have contacts with many folks across the country and even around the world, who are willing to share their stories. And truthfully, it's not so much a vetting process, as it is an understanding that every person has something worth sharing."
As a longtime teacher of creative writing and literature, Fiallos sees today's podcasts as yet another way of telling stories.
"Storytelling I think is how we as a species communicated our histories and our lessons over long periods of time, through storytelling. And I think a lot of that gets lost through sound bites and with political arguments, the stories of the individual get lost. And with one person at a time, I believe we can learn to find those connections again."
Fiallos said his big-picture idea is simply for his podcasts to act as that connective tissue.
"The goal I have for the 'Finlos Lives' podcast series is to remember that we are all individuals with our own experiences, that we all have our own ways of looking at the world. And rather than disagreeing about the things we don't have in common, that we learn to listen to each other to hear our own stories and find our place within each others' stories."
Paco Fiallos's "Finlos Lives" podcasts can be found at: finloslives.com.