NPR Staff

What's it like to be a 15-year-old girl, full of dreams but not sure how to make them become reality?

That's a question that NPR explored this fall in our series #15Girls. We sent reporters around the world. We met girls who faced all kinds of obstacles: gang violence, child marriage, unaffordable tuition fees. And we learned the plans they hatched to get ahead.

We asked our correspondents to share a moment that was critical in their reporting — a person they met, a scene they witnessed that helped shape the story they told.

Chef and food writer Kenji Lopez-Alt recently paid a visit to old stomping grounds: the Boston area, home to his alma mater, MIT.

He helped prepare one dinner at Roxy's Grilled Cheese, a small, hip sandwich shop in the Allston neighborhood, to share a recipe from his new book The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science.

Five years ago, the world was riveted by the plight of 33 miners trapped deep underground in Chile. For 69 days, we waited to see if the men would survive the collapse of a gold and copper mine. Then came a miraculous ending: All the miners were carried to safety in a tiny capsule called The Phoenix.

StoryCorps' Memory Loss Initiative supports and encourages people with various forms of memory loss to share their stories with loved ones and future generations.

Teresa Valko lives in California, and her mother, 80-year-old Evelyn Wilson, lives in Georgia. They keep in touch with regular phone conversations.

Eight years ago, Wilson began to show symptoms of memory loss.

Over the past few weeks, NPR has featured the stories of 15-year-old girls all over the globe as part of our #15Girls series. These young women are pushing back against parental expectations, cultural norms and economic hardship and taking charge of their future.

Many of you told us you were surprised and inspired by these stories. And lots of you wanted to know more. Below, we've asked our reporters to answer some of your queries.

Stan Lee is a legend. Along with artists Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, Lee helped populate the Marvel Comics universe with heroes like the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk and Iron Man.

Their most famous creation — Lee calls him "Spidey" — is everywhere in this office, as a painting, a life-size doll, and even a pinball machine. "Nobody plays pinballs anymore," Lee tells NPR's Renee Montagne. "And it's really a good thing, because it doesn't work anymore."

Back in 1986, Allen Toussaint told All Things Considered that he could write a song from the scraps of a joke, or from snippets of conversations. If the occasion called for it, he could even fashion writer's block into verse.

"Well, how do you write a song?" he offered, playfully. "Do you make it short? Do you make it long? Is there any right? Is there any wrong? Just how do you write a song?"

Jihae Shin was a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, preparing to enter the academic job market. She had set her sights on finding a fabulous faculty position, but wasn't sure she was going to get one.

The safe thing was to have a backup plan — to apply for a number of other jobs as well. But the thought of doing so made her worried: would the presence of the backup options diminish her motivation to get the job she really wanted?

Shonda Rhimes will be the first to admit she didn't expect to be famous. Hollywood is notoriously uncharitable to writers, but the success of her company ShondaLand — the force behind the ABC top-rated dramas Grey's Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder — has made her a household name.