The Cost of Being an ‘Interchangeable Asian’ and How to Advocate for Your Well-Being at Work: The Week in Narrated Articles

This weekend, listen to a collection of narrated articles from around The New York Times, read aloud by the reporters who wrote them.

White-collar professionals are preparing to return to the office after more than a year of working from home. It hasn’t been a year of just video calls and Zoom happy hours, though.

In the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement, many companies have begun “diversity, equity and inclusion” programs aimed at recalibrating their office cultures to be more supportive of minority workers.

But as a first step, what many Asian American professionals need is simple: They want their colleagues to bother to learn their names.

For more than a year, Terri VanDam, the chief of the three-person Police Department in Guernsey, Wyo., and her sergeant, Misty Clevenger, had tried and failed to get to the bottom of the drug and alcohol problem in Guernsey, population 1,124.

Methamphetamine use was rampant, and much of it was bought and sold right at the bars, but when anyone tried to investigate, they ran into a wall of silence that went right up to City Hall.

Ms. VanDam reached out to the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation, asking for help to turn her suspicions into a case. Two weeks later, she was fired, followed by Ms. Clevenger.

Now, their lawsuits are prying open the town’s secrets.

Written and narrated by Christina Caron

Haven’t we all been Naomi Osaka at some point in our lives?

Like the tennis star, many of us have been stuck in situations that were detrimental to our mental health — at work or in our personal lives — feeling torn between societal expectations and self-preservation.

Ms. Osaka acted admirably when she stood up for her needs and withdrew from the French Open, several mental health experts said. They added: It can benefit all of us to be on the lookout for signs that we might need to make changes at work or get professional help.

Written and narrated by Dani Blum

Academics have studied virtual reality’s potential to treat anxiety disorders since the 1990s, and the practice has incrementally gathered momentum as the technology has improved and headsets have become more affordable.

Chris Merkle, a veteran who had spent years struggling with the invasive symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, likened his experience in virtual reality simulations to a child confronting imaginary monsters in a closet. Each time you open the door, he said, you see there’s nothing to fear. And each time, the virtual reality treatment gets easier.

Written and narrated by Eliza Shapiro

When the New York City school system, the largest in the nation, shuttered last spring, the one million students who had flooded its classrooms were abruptly sent home. Tens of thousands of teachers had just a few days to collect their papers and prepare for online classes before schools were mostly emptied.

But in the absence of children and educators, there was a vast and often unseen force of essential school staff — including cooks, custodians, maintenance workers and nurses — that never left the city’s 1,800 school buildings.

The Times’s narrated articles are made by Parin Behrooz, Carson Leigh Brown, Anna Diamond, Aaron Esposito, Elena Hecht, Emma Kehlbeck, Marion Lozano, Anna Martin, Tracy Mumford, Tanya Perez, Margaret Willison, Kate Winslett and John Woo. Special thanks to Sam Dolnick, Ryan Wegner, Julia Simon and Desiree Ibekwe.

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