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Is It Reggae? Is It Hip-Hop? Reggaeton From Puerto Rico Is Both

Brianna Blake, Jerilyn Watson and Anne Pessala


HOST: Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.

I'm Doug Johnson. On our show this week …

We play some examples of a kind of music called reggaeton …

Answer a question about the pandas at the National Zoo …

And report about community service organizations.

Fraternal Orders

The United States has many community social groups that work for important causes and also have fun. Pat Bodnar tells us more about fraternal orders, and how they are not just for grandparents anymore.

PAT BODNAR: Fraternal orders, also called fraternal organizations, are social and service groups. Until recently, they were most popular among older people. But lately, these groups are experiencing an increase in younger new members.

Many fraternal orders were started more than one hundred years ago. They were often organized to serve a special purpose. For example, the Patrons of Husbandry, or the Grange, was started to help support farmers. Other groups aimed to offer members financial help in times of sickness or death.

One well known fraternal order is called the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, or the Elks. Others are the Kiwanis and the Lions Clubs International.

Some fraternal orders are national and others have members all over the world. They are usually divided into smaller, local groups in different towns and cities. They often have their own meeting place where members gather to socialize. Many fraternal orders also organize events to raise money to help people in the community. For example, they may raise money to provide scholarships for students to pay for their college education.

Many Americans joined fraternal orders after World War Two. But during the past twenty years, fraternal orders in the United States have struggled with decreasing membership as people have left the organizations or died.

However, a recent interest in these groups among younger people is now helping them to survive. In American cities like Detroit, Michigan; Hoboken, New Jersey, and Austin, Texas young professionals are joining fraternal orders. Younger new members say they like the groups because they are involved in helping their communities. They also enjoy having a place to go and meet with friends. Fraternal order gatherings are less crowded than many of the popular eating and drinking places in large cities.

Many fraternal orders have special swearing-in ceremonies for their new members. Some of the groups have secret traditions. Many fraternal orders have historically been limited to only men. But some now permit women to join.

Giant Pandas

HOST: Our listener question today comes from China. Miss He wants to know about the giant pandas at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. She also wants to know if they have had a baby.

Tian Tian [tee-YEN tee-YEN], the male panda, and his mate, Mei Xiang [may SHONG] are doing well in Washington. They became parents nine months ago.

On July ninth, Mei Xiang gave birth to a male cub, Tai Shan [tie SHAHN]. The baby weighed only one hundred grams at birth. But he has grown a lot. He now weighs about eighteen kilograms.

The panda cub is very popular. In December, zoo officials began to let the public see him. Almost four hundred thousand people have visited the zoo to see him. Millions of other people have watched his activities on the National Zoo’s Internet Web site.

Tai Shan is fun to watch. He likes to roll around, climb trees and hang upside down. He drinks milk from his mother. He plays with her. His father, however, stays in a separate area. Male pandas do not take much interest in their young.

The pandas’ areas at the zoo were designed especially for them. Their two outdoor areas have grass and huge rock caves. The cave structures are cooled to protect the pandas from the heat in the summer. An expanded Giant Panda Habitat with more activities will open this autumn.

Tai Shan’s parents came to the United States in two thousand. China lent them to the United States for ten years in exchange for ten million dollars. The money helps support programs in China to save giant pandas in the wild.

The birth of Tai Shan resulted from artificial insemination. Reproductive material from Tian Tian was placed in Mei Xiang’s body in March of last year. It took place during the two or three days each year that a female panda can become pregnant. This short fertile period is one of the reasons why giant pandas are in danger of disappearing from Earth.

Tai Shan will be sent to live in China when he is two years old. When that time comes, many Americans will be very sad.


Reggaeton is a kind of music that is becoming very popular with young Americans. It is a combination of Caribbean reggae and Spanish hip-hop that started in Puerto Rico. Steve Ember tell us more.

STEVE EMBER: Listeners say reggaeton is a musical blend that is different from their parents’ traditional music and American hip-hop. Most reggaeton stars are Puerto Rican. But reggaeton is popular with many young Americans, even though some do not understand the Spanish words. Daddy Yankee was one of the first artists to become popular with non-Spanish-speaking listeners. Here is one of his most popular songs, “Gasolina.”


Many reggaeton artists sing about their difficult experiences being poor. Some people say the words of some of the songs are too violent and dishonor women. One artist is trying to change that. Ivy Queen sings about the problems that women face. Another artist originally performed this song, “Si Una Vez." Here is Ivy Queen’s reggaeton version.


Reggaeton can be heard on radios and in nightclubs across America. It was made for dancing, so we will leave you with a song whose title means just that. Here is “Bailando” by Yaga and Mackie.


HOST: I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today.

Our show was written by Brianna Blake, Jeri Watson and Anne Pessala. Caty Weaver was our producer.

Send your questions about American life to Please include your full name and mailing address. Or write to American Mosaic, VOA Special English, Washington, D.C., two-zero-two-three-seven, U.S.A.

Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.