My Family, the American Dream

Former US President Bill Clinton recently held my family up as an example of immigrants that have done well in - and for - America. In his interview with Fareed Zakaria, President Clinton was making an argument that the US should open its arms to Syrian refugees. As evidence that Syrian immigrants can be good additions to the US population, he cited a Syrian[-Italian]-American family he grew up with in Hot Springs, Arkansas: my grandfather, grandmother, father, and aunts.

My great grandfather immigrated to the US from Syria. His son, my grandfather, who fought for the US in World War II, was stationed in Italy, where he met and married my grandmother. My father was born in Italy but the family returned to the US when he was still a baby. There he and his four sisters grew up down the street from Bill Clinton.

While I have to admit a small flash of pride in having my family mentioned by a US president, the real pride is in America. For all its faults, sometimes it truly does live up to its reputation as the land of opportunity. It is a place where poor immigrants can come, start a new life, and have children who grow up to be physicists, accountants, teachers, nurses . . . or even President of our country.

Both sides of my family came from modest means and both sides have worked hard to create secure futures for their children and grandchildren. I'm not only proud to live in a country where this is possible, but also grateful beyond measure. My family is truly living the American Dream.


International Travel

Over the past month I have been an international traveling machine. First I went to Switzerland for a couple of days. It was early Autumn when I first visited the country so it always feels nice to visit this time of year - like returning to my second home.

The weather was gorgeous so I spent the time running along the lake, revisiting my IMD stomping ground, and catching up with old friends. One of my dearest friends from IMD came in from out of town just to spend Friday with me - what an honor and a pleasure! I wrapped up the short visit Friday night with - what else - a fondue dinner with several friends. It was perfect.

I then took advantage of already being in Europe to hop the train to Paris for my annual Jimmy Buffett concert. He played Saturday and Sunday nights this year so I caught both shows. Each show was fantastic as always and a little different in its own right.

Saturday night Stephen Stills and Graham Nash of Crosby Stills & Nash joined Buffett on stage to sing "Southern Cross." Sunday night, after a full day of champagne tailgating (When in Rome . . .), I wound up right up at the front of the stage. Both shows were incomparable to any of his huge stadium shows in the US.

Last week I went to Costa Rica for the first time. It was for a bachelor party so obviously the details won't be reported here. Suffice to say, however, that we had a wonderful time. Not only did I get to celebrate a dear friend’s impending marriage and spend time in a “green” country (both in terms of its environmental responsibility and in terms of the lush tropical rainforests that extend all the way out to the ocean), but I was able to practice my espaƱol as well.

With the Costa Rica trip still large in the rear view mirror, soon I will be traveling to Dubai for my IMD class reunion. I have never been to the UAE before so it will be quite an adventure - I only wish I had more time to learn to speak Arabic first.

As my readers should know by now, I believe in collecting experiences rather than things. Things can be quite burdensome but experiences stay with you forever and no one can ever take them away from you (Plus they pack up quite easily when you move!). Here's looking forward to many more grand experiences through travel . . . and to all the frequent flier miles!