A Human Face Podcast Amplifies Voices Amid Global Pandemic


Courtesy of Rachel Abalos

Junior Rachel Abalos interviews junior Sofia Fidel about her thoughts on seeing people going out despite the stay-at-home orders. Throughout the podcast, she answered questions focusing on her daily emotions with both of her parents returning home after diligently working at a local hospital.

Charlotte Cao and Claudia Lin

With school physically closed until summer, many clubs have suspended their on-campus activities. Junior Rachel Abalos, president of the Toastmasters Gavel club, quickly developed a new way to spread her club’s message and created “A Human Face,” a podcast dedicated to sparking conversation about important global issues in the community. 

After the stay-at-home order, Abalos searched for alternate solutions as it became difficult for the club to continue their meetings. 

As a result, club officers and juniors Abalos, Eric Hao, Michael Moon, sophomore Jamaal Walker, and senior Ankith Desai vocalized their thoughts through creating a podcast. 

“We said that we wanted to put a human face on issues that we face and that the world faces, so we can show people how things feel and what the situation is like,” sophomore and Toastmasters Gavel officer Jamaal Walker said. “Since COVID-19, we thought, ‘What a better time to do something like this?’”

The goal of their podcast, “A Human Face,” is to take significant issues typically found on headlines and then humanize them according to Abalos. By allowing club members to voice their opinions, the Toastmasters Gavel club is promoting the idea that there is power in the individual voice, and there is a lesson in every story. 

The first episode, “What It’s Like to Have Both Parents as COVID-19 Front Liners,” released on May 12 and discusses the implications of having parents who both work in hospitals during the pandemic. Due to current circumstances, Abalos thought that it was especially fitting to feature students like junior Sofia Fidel because of the personal obstacles she encountered as a daughter of first responders. 

“I was interested because just seeing how people are, like their actions during quarantine, like they’re not really taking it seriously,” Fidel said. “I was hoping that talking in the podcast will make them more aware of how serious the situation is and give them a little perspective of people who are living with first responders.”

Following the recent unprovoked killings of African Americans Ahmad Arbery, Breanna Taylor, and George Floyd, Walker and sophomore Paris Suttle have made plans to discuss the issue of racial profiling in the second episode, which will release by the end of May. Walker said he hopes that his episode will allow for minorities to feel represented and generate.

Abalos founded the Toastmasters Gavel club to help novice speakers hone their public speaking abilities in a safe, collaborative environment; members write speeches and present them to the rest of the group, allowing for them to become more confident as they continuously practice their tone and enunciation. 

Public speaking is a way to put your perspective out there and to have your perspective be heard.

— Rachel Abalos

“Public speaking is a way to put your perspective out there and to have your perspective be heard,” Abalos said. “And I always grew up loving that, because that’s how I think of musical theater…It’s like your platform for people to see your perspective, and even that is just the smallest amount of change.”