Where are you from, and what brought you to Rome?
I was born in Chicago and left at the age of six months to move to Athens, Greece. I am the son of someone who worked for Caltex Oil and we moved around a lot. When I was in ninth grade, we were living in Madrid. I had just moved from Beirut and my grades were too good, according to my mother, for the amount of work I was doing, so she looked for a more challenging school. So, in 10th grade, I was sent to St. Stephen's as a boarding student, spent three years there and graduated from St. Stephen's.
What do you remember most from your time at St. Stephen's?
I made “forever” friendships. St. Stephen's is where I met my wife. We're still married. She's here working with me in Africa. The School was so important in terms of lifelong friendships. When I think about where really good friends come from, it's from high school, not college. The first business I set up was with a classmate and then we were joined by another classmate.
The other important thing was the quality of the education. The School took advantage of its location in Rome. I remember fondly reading Ovid's "The Art of Loving" outside in the garden of the villa (this was when St. Stephen's was in Parioli). If you're going to make Latin enjoyable, that was an excellent way to do it
I had some phenomenal teachers, one of whom I know has been back teaching at St. Stephens, Ed Steinberg. When, as a senior in high school, someone gets you to read Freud, study sociology and learn about socialism, it opens up the world of adults; you're still a kid, but you see that there's this other world out there. I went to a good college, Swarthmore, but I didn't feel there was anything qualitatively different that I hadn't already experienced at St. Stephen's.
I remember just being able to enjoy Rome, the food, the rowing program at St. Stephen's, where we would row on the Tiber. I also remember when a teacher arranged for us to visit the Vatican Archives and, years later, when I saw the movie set in the Vatican Archives with Tom Hanks and there was all this security, it made me think back to how special it was that when we were able, as students, to get a tour of the Archives. I still remember the tour guide pulling out a flat file that contained this big manuscript with a gold seal on it: "this is from Emperor Maximillian to Pius IX" and the translated the letter, which was basically Maximillian saying, "Pope, send money and troops!" And this is before he's assassinated. Seeing a letter like that is priceless and memorable.