Robbie Feinberg

Robbie grew up in New Hampshire, but has since written stories for radio stations from Washington, D.C., to a fishing village in Alaska. Robbie graduated from the University of Maryland and got his start in public radio at the Transom Story Workshop in Woods Hole,

Massachusetts. Before arriving at Maine Public Radio, he worked in the Midwest, where he covered everything from beer to migrant labor for public radio station WMUK in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Updated at 4:06 p.m. ET

Sixth-grader Charlie Pierce says the hardest part of going back to school wasn't the masks or the temperature checks. It was not being able to hug the friends she hadn't seen in months.

"My friends kind of really wanted to hug me," Charlie says.

"We had talked about keeping our distance," her mom, Ami Pierce, adds, "because we are huggers by nature."

Gary Theriault hops off his motorcycle and walks into the Tastee-Freez, a roadside ice cream and takeout stand just a short hop from the Canadian border, in Madawaska, Maine.

As he waits for his milkshake, Theriault peers across the St. John River towards Edmundston, New Brunswick. He says the two communities have long been linked by their heritage and connected economies.

Inside her small shop in downtown Bangor, Maine, Angela Okafor chats with a local mom as she braids the mom's hair. A few feet from the styling chair, Okafor's young daughter glides on a scooter through shelves of international foods and spices. Racks of African clothing — sewn by Okafor — line the wall. It's a busy place, she says, and one that the city's small immigrant population seeks out for food and connection.

Filipe and Mireille took their four young children and fled violent militias and civil unrest in the Democratic Republic of Congo nearly five months ago.

They flew to Ecuador, then traveled on foot across Central America to reach the U.S.-Mexico border, where they waited for weeks in a long line of asylum-seekers before being allowed to cross and make the last leg of their journey.

Finally, they reached their destination: a makeshift emergency shelter in Portland, Maine — a converted minor-league sports arena now filled with cots. Filipe describes it as "paradise."

Allan Monga had never given much thought to poetry before last summer, when he arrived in Maine as an asylum-seeker from Zambia.

At the time, he was almost completely alone, living at a teen shelter in Portland and nervous about speaking with anyone in his new country.

"It was really hard for me," says Monga, 19. "I didn't really know anyone. It was hard to trust anyone."

It was the year 2000 and Maine's governor at the time, Angus King, was excited about the Internet. The World Wide Web was still relatively young but King wanted every student in the state to have access to it.

"Go into history class and the teacher says, 'Open your computer. We're going to go to rome.com and we're going to watch an archaeologist explore the Catacombs this morning in real time.' What a learning tool that is!"