Practicing English

Is there anything more embarrassing for an English learner than being asked to repeat what you just said? Twice, thrice (that means three times) … each pointing out that you have not mastered English. Yet. (Worse is when the American you’re speaking with RAISES THEIR VOICE as if you are deaf instead of struggling.) Mastering…

Penn State Class of 2017

My great-grandfather starved to death. He died in the 50s. My dad doesn’t know the exact year, or even his name. He was one among untold millions of Chinese people who died during Mao Zedong’s “Great Leap Forward.” It was a cold winter day; the earth was hard and frosted over. His family was so…

andy-shallal-at-bus-boys-and-poets-610x260

When we interviewed Iraqi-American Andy Shallal at his Washington, D.C. restaurant, we did more laughing than talking. Until the conversation turned to freedom of expression. Shallal, 60, was born in Iraq. In 1966, his father, a diplomat, was assigned to the United States. Two years later, when Saddam Hussein seized power in Iraq, Shallal’s father…

Government supporters wave Turkish flags and shout slogans during a protest in Taksim Square, Istanbul, Tuesday, July 19, 2016. The Turkish government accelerated its crackdown on alleged plotters of the failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The rebellion, which saw warplanes firing on key government installations and tanks rolling into major cities, was quashed by loyal government forces and masses of civilians who took to the streets. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

As I watched from the roof of my apartment building in Istanbul, the explosions and gunfire from the Bosphorous bridge got louder and more frequent. Two blocks from my apartment building, soldiers had opened fire on flag-waving crowds in popular Taksim Square. At 11 p.m., Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan appeared on television, telling the country that…