My grandmother used to tell a story about coming to America from Poland. How she sang God Bless America to cheer up all the grownups on the ship. She was 5 or 6 years old, traveling alone with her mom. For her, it must have been a big adventure. I can hardly imagine what it was like for her mom— my great grandmother — how bad things must have been for Jews in their home town of Bialystok for her to pick up and leave like that, without her husband, heading toward some distant cousin in the undiscovered country of Vineland, New Jersey.
My guest today left Egypt as an adult for the US, also under politically grim circumstances. During the Arab Spring, as his country convulsed toward revolution, he became a leading voice of dissent. A trained surgeon, he made an unlikely transition to famous tv satirist for millions of viewers on his nightly political comedy show. Bassem risked jail, helped facilitate the toppling of a dictator who’d been in power for 30 years, and after all that change decided it was time to start a new life in America.
And just yesterday I was complaining that I’m sick of New York City, but I don’t see how I could possibly leave . . .
Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode:
About Think Again – A Big Think Podcast: Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. Since 2015, the Think Again podcast has been taking us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.
You’ve got 10 minutes with Einstein. What do you talk about? Black holes? Time travel? Why not gambling? The Art of War? Contemporary parenting? Some of the best conversations happen when we’re pushed outside of our comfort zones. Each week on Think Again, we surprise smart people you may have heard of with short clips from Big Think’s interview archives on every imaginable subject. These conversations could, and do, go anywhere.
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