Dear Bronx Science, Remember Me? The Podcast of Victoria Li ’12

Reflect, admire, and challenge your Bronx Science experience through this alumna-run podcast.

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Victoria Li

While most people are currently stationed at home in respect to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, the podcast helps the whole Bronx Science community, including Li, connect with each other- something Li hopes to preserve even after the pandemic.

The lights dim and the curtains open. The crowd’s eyes turn to the single spotlight that illuminates the center of the stage. Performers crowd the once empty platform and a story unfolds. In no need of accordance with the show’s details, the shared narrative encourages the unity of diverse perspectives, backgrounds, and values.

Yet, despite the foundational role of this performative culture in society, much of the passion and zest stemming from physical performances began to dwindle in the midst of the current Coronavirus pandemic. However, independent aspiring and established artists alike began to break down the barriers imposed by the unprecedented health measures through using a reputably underrated media tool: podcasts.

Catering to a market of multitudes, podcasts allow artists to share their stories with the world, build a brand, and ultimately preserve more control over both their success and their narrative. One series that is especially close to our school community is Dear Bronx Science, hosted by Victoria Li ’12.

When the Coronavirus pandemic initially broke out, Li turned to podcasts as a way to connect with people virtually and restore a lost sense of unity. For her, a turning point occurred when listening to The Tim Ferriss Show’s interview with Matthew McConaughey, where McConaughey said he tries to be “less impressed, and more involved.” Realizing that she should be “less impressed” by podcasts and instead “more involved” in the audio storytelling community, Li was inspired to do exactly that with Dear Bronx Science.

With the pandemic being particularly tough on students both inside and outside of classrooms, the podcast was a perfect opportunity to tie together student life with the real world, which extended far beyond Bronx Science. “With students learning at home, there are even greater barriers preventing students from connecting with mentors. I have learned a lot from listening to podcast interviews and believed that there are a great number of stories to be shared from the community to the students,” said Li.

The podcast officially launched in January 2021 with the speakers generally being Bronx Science alumni. Beginning with her own network ensured that the guest perspective believed in Li’s mission in a way that encouraged growth while valuing its current position. Li’s guest outreach strategy evolved as the podcast evolved. As she became more comfortable producing, she also witnessed how much the narratives began to resonate with the audience. With time, she broadened her outreach to include those who reached out on their own, which consisted of not only alumni, but current students as well.

The guests’ editorial values paired with the thought-provoking follow-ups by Li paved the way for structuring rich, meaningful storytelling. The episodes’ talking points revolve around sharing the guest’s time at Bronx Science, how they grew from the experience, and finishing the letter “Dear Bronx Science,” which was inspired by a fellow Bronx Science alum Jerry Won’s podcast, Dear Asian Americans. Since the audience has been predominantly Bronx Science alumni, Li positions the guest advice and insights to be more general, as opposed to being exclusively for Bronx Science students.

“In the long term, I want Dear Bronx Science to be a repository of great stories from the Bronx Science community so that if anyone needs inspiration, they can find it in an episode,” said Li. What’s especially outstanding about Dear Bronx Science is its spotlight on stories that are not clouded by reputable fame, which is something Bronx Science is not devoid of with its extensive list of notable graduates. “I think it is just as important to feature alumni who are not as well-known, since their experiences are generally more applicable to the community. I want guests to be vulnerable and share their failures, so that it inspires us to be able to stand back up when we face our own challenges,” continued Li.

Podcasts in general are not a unique medium of storytelling — there are many of all genres to be found online. Yet, the variety in personal ties beyond Bronx Science from guest to guest allows speakers to use the episode as a way for their non-Bronx Science network to know another side of them. While it tends to be rather difficult to share our challenges or origin stories with people we meet later on in life, Dear Bronx Science provides the perfect platform to do so. To elaborate, Li said, “There’s authenticity in the stories shared. There are not enough places that allow us to reflect on our challenges and how those challenges led us to be the person we are today.”

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Li’s project is that while her work of art resonates with a wide audience, she did not have any prior experience with podcasts. Most of her inspiration stemmed from listening to other podcasts such as 2 Addys and a Coffee, Please and Dear Asian Americans. 2 Addy’s and a Coffee, Please, hosted by Nelly Lin ’15 and Juno Lee ’15, was especially essential to Li’s track as it was the project that made her realize that she wanted to bring Dear Bronx Science to life.

“One episode that stands out to me is the episode with Bhargava Chitti ‘12. We knew each other from high school but not beyond the surface level. We are very familiar with our own failures but it is not often we hear how others have overcome failures,” said Li. (Victoria Li)

These alumni were an incredible resource for providing advice and helping Li understand what it would take mentally and software-wise to start a podcast. Admirably, Li’s progress started in November 2020, meaning she was able to put everything together within three months of her premiere. “If you are interested in starting a podcast, start small. It is no coincidence that the first few episodes are with guests around my class year,” advises Li. With ongoing plans to expand her guest list to include teachers and students of all class years, current and graduate, Li has made impressive strides towards protecting this valuable tie within the Bronx Science community.

The boom in independent narrative formats may be enough to hint that podcasting can very well be the future of media. What distinguishes this audio narrative from other forms of media is the intimacy that comes with knowing that your listeners have deliberately chosen your show. As opposed to what you may listen to on the radio, those who tune in to Dear Bronx Science share a genuine passion for reflection and growth stemming from the familiar environment of Bronx Science.

Speakers not only honor their experience, but admit of the changes that would have benefited them. Victoria Li is an incredibly talented and dedicated artist whose passion for connecting the world, and Bronx Science especially, during these unprecedented times is outstanding.

If you are a part of the Bronx Science family, whether you are a current attendee, a graduate, or staff member, be sure to sign up to guest speak! Join in on this awe-inspiring road to preserving the irreplaceable pride in being an integral part of Bronx Science’s history.

“In the long term, I want Dear Bronx Science to be a repository of great stories from the Bronx Science community so that if anyone needs inspiration, they can find it in an episode,” said Victoria Li ’12. What’s especially outstanding about Dear Bronx Science is its spotlight on stories that are not clouded by reputable fame, which is something Bronx Science is not devoid of with its extensive list of notable graduates. “I think it is just as important to feature alumni who are not as well-known, since their experiences are generally more applicable to the community. I want guests to be vulnerable and share their failures, so that it inspires us to be able to stand back up when we face our own challenges,” continued Li.

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