Recap: The kick-off to my upcoming book tour took place on September 26 at the US State Department’s Ralph J. Bunche Library. The event was hosted by the Office of International Religious Freedom and was hosted by Sameer Hossain, Unit Chief of the South and Central Asia & Multilateral Affairs Team. Sameer also introduced me and launched the conversation with several well-placed questions. Forty were in attendance, mostly State Department employees.

State department crowd

Sameer termed the event “an absolute thrill” and offered some background as to how the event was conceived. “I got to know Bob through his international work with Intersections International. I was very impressed with his ability to effectively and respectfully engage interfaith leaders on areas of mutual interest, particularly on advancing international religious freedom. Many of the insights Bob shared with me over the years are vividly captured through his personal narrative in Beyond the Comma. I commend him for his dedication and passion, which we can all experience now through his book.”

Bob and Sameer

On attendee, Kate Bradford, called the presentation and subsequent conversation, “very inspiring.” Kate serves as a volunteer with Workplace Health Without Borders, an organization that promotes joint efforts between senior occupational/industrial hygienists in the industrialized world with their junior counterparts in remote locations.

She went on to say, “I’ve found that even the most enlightened organizations sometimes carry an unconscious bias that those from industrialized, developed countries have something to impart to those in the less developed parts of the globe, that we’re there to ‘help’ and sometimes aren’t aware that our desire may be one-sided or not truly collaborative. Your talk addressed this issue with grace and humility.”

state dept ws.jpg

At the end of the hour-long program, one-on-one conversations continued to explore the issues raised in Beyond the Comma. The next scheduled stop on my tour is on Wednesday, October 18 at 7:30 p.m. in McLean, Virginia at the home of my good friends, Sam and Susan Simon. You can find more information on this event here.



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