Interview with memoirist Albert Nasib Badre

A big welcome to today’s special guest author, Albert Nasib
Badre
. We’re chatting about his memoir, Looking West: TheJourney of a Lebanese a Lebanese American Immigrant.
Bio:
Albert Nasib Badre is an American author born in Beirut
Lebanon. He immigrated to the United States with his family in 1960 at the age
of fourteen. His family made Albany, NY their first home in America where he
attended a private Catholic high school through his junior year. After three
years in Albany, the family moved to Iowa City, IA when his father accepted a
professor position at the University of Iowa. He finished his senior year at
Iowa City High School, then went on to the University of Iowa where he got a
Bachelor of Arts degree. After college, he spent a year as a social worker in
New York City. Deciding social work was not for him, he went on to pursue
graduate studies at the University of Michigan where he got his PhD in 1973.
He spent the next thirty years at the Georgia Institute of
Technology, and today he’s Emeritus Professor of Computing at Georgia Tech.
During his tenure at Georgia Tech, he was an international consultant
specializing in designing technology to enhance the human experience. Albert was an early pioneer in the field of human-centric
design, with some thirty years of experience in human-computer interaction,
learning technologies, and human-centric e-learning. 
His background combines expertise in
the empirical methodologies of the behavioral sciences and the design
approaches of the computing sciences.
Albert
authored numerous technical papers, is co-editor of the book Directions
in Human Computer Interaction
, and the author of the book, ShapingWeb Usability: Interaction Design in Context. His memoir, Looking
West
, is the story of his coming of age immigration to America and
subsequent conversion to the Catholic Church.
Today,
Albert and his wife live in Providence, RI near his son and family, where he
leads a very active volunteer life, in service to the community.
Welcome, Albert. Please tell us about your current release.
It’s about my coming of age immigration with my family from
Beirut, Lebanon to the United States when I was fourteen years old. The news
I’ll be traveling to America excited me to no end. What I didn’t realize when
my parents told us we’ll be coming to America, was with limited English skills,
it was going to be a tough road for me. I struggled as I tried to learn new
customs, make friends, and adapt to a different culture. In Beirut, my family
was well established, I had many friends, and was surrounded by lots of
relatives. We all, relatives and friends, lived within walking distance from
each other in Beirut. In Albany, N.Y., our first home in America, we were
unknown nobodies. When I started in ninth grade, not only I couldn’t converse
in English, none of my schoolmates knew anything about my history. I literally
had to start all over.
As I strove to adapt, I read voraciously, becoming
increasingly interested in religion and philosophy. Books became my “American
friends,” and reading soon prompted me to ask deep theological questions about
my family’s Lebanese Protestant roots, my mother’s conversion to Catholicism,
and the contrast between the Protestant and Catholic faiths. This ultimately
led to my Catholic conversion.
Despite the many frustrations and difficulties, my goal was
to become a successful American. I pressed forward pursuing my adolescent
desire, which I announced to my family at the dining room table in Beirut, to
strive for my place in the “realm of the mind.” Eventually my search lead me to
social activism among New York City’s poorest. And, in time, to graduate
studies, where my desire was to improve the human condition through information
technology.
What inspired you to write this book?
Well, it all started after my father passed away in 2010. As
I mentioned in the book, my father could not come with us to Albany
the first three years of our immigration. He
had work commitments in Lebanon the first year; the next two years, he lived in
the (Belgian) Congo where he was the economic advisor on Congolese Economic
affairs to the then UN Secretary General, Dag Hammarskjold. 
When my
father passed away at the age of ninety-eight, my sister Maria, who lived with
my parents, went through his file cabinets and found a considerable amount of
papers and documents that he had accumulated over fifty years. Among these were
a large collection of letters that my mother, my two brothers and myself had
written to him between 1960 and 1963, our first years in the US. The majority
of the letters were from my mother, who wrote to him at least once a week
detailing the voyage by sea and telling him about our daily life in Albany.
After I read and reread all the letters and decided to start
writing, I spent many delightful and enlightening hours conversing with my
mother about our life in Lebanon and our American adventure. These
conversations were at times bittersweet. Every time she would start telling an
anecdote involving my father, she would weep. When she’d cry, tears would fill
my eyes as well. My wife, Barbara, and I explored a large trove of photos from
my parents’ files and albums as well as our own collection.
The more I wrote and as the immigration narrative in recent
years became front and center in the national discourse, I felt compelled to tell
my story to all those interested in modern immigrant narratives. 
What exciting story are you working on next?
I’ve started working on a sequel, except I am thinking
seriously of writing it not as a memoir, but as a novel. It’ll be based on my
life in academia. There’s lots of conflict involving people who are still
around, or the families, and I am sure they would not take kindly to my
relating some of the stories. It is about this idealistic individual who starts
as a young assistant professor counting on spending the rest of his life
pursuing a scholarly career in an intellectual paradise  disconnected from real world concerns.
He finds out the truth about academic life very fast. He tries to fight to
preserve his scholarly independence and, in the process, he makes enemies, is
wounded more than once, and finds out academia is as cut throat as anywhere
else, perhaps more. The story climax on how he overcomes conflicts and
difficulties, and eventually reaches scholarly independence.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Actually, I started writing when I was a sophomore in high
school. I wrote several pieces for the school newspaper, the Vincentian.
Socio-political issues of the day interested me at the time and I wrote about
them. In graduate school, I coauthored several papers with my Ph.D. advisor,
and that’s when I learned the art of scholarly writing. The papers were
published in highly reviewed journals. Then as a professor and academic
researcher, I wrote many papers published in technical journals in my field and
authored a book as well as parts of books. After I left my academic career, I
wanted to write the memoirs. When I would first write and show it to people,
for example in my writing group, they would say to me, “you write more like
your trying to prove an argument or explore a set of points.” I guess they felt
what I wrote is dry and lacks personal expression. It didn’t take me long to
figure out creative writing is very different from scholarly writing, and I
enrolled in continuing education courses on creative nonfiction at Brown
University. We had to write a new piece for every class session, and got
valuable feedback, mainly by the instructor, but also by participating
students.
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s your work day like? If
not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
The early mornings, and I mean early—4:30 AM—is when I find
it easiest to write. I write for about two to three hours, then I get ready for
the rest of the day. Then I write some more before lunch time. A nap after
lunch is a must. Then, I spend a good portion of the day reading, a habit I
picked up when I was still in primary school, as you’ll find out when you read
Looking West. I am sure, you can tell, I don’t do real work. I am a retired
professor.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
After four or five pages of writing, I like to read aloud
what I wrote. This helps me make sure I am not writing a thesis, but telling a
story.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
As I mention in Looking West, when I was still
in Beirut, sitting at the dinner table, I told my family in America, I want to
work in the realm of the mind. When my father asked what do I mean, I said I
mean the realm of ideas, I want to become a great thinker, and write books.
This was very different than what most children my age in my family circle said
they wanted to be when they grew up—Doctors, Lawyers, Engineers, business
people.
Links:




To learn more about Albert, feel free to check out any of
his other virtual book tour stops:
Launch Day – April 8th
Albert Nasib Badre
launches his tour of “Looking West; The Journey of a Lebanese-American
Immigrant” with an interview and giveaway at the Muffin!
April 11th @
World of My Imagination with Nicole Pyles
Nicole Pyles shares
her review of “Looking West; The Journey of a Lebanese-American Immigrant”
with readers at World of My Imagination. Don’t miss a chance to learn more
about this heroic memoir.
April 12th @
Bring on Lemons with Crystal Otto
Crystal Otto shares a
5 star review or the touching and empowering memoir “Looking West” by
Albert Nasib Badre.
April 15th @
Selling Books with Cathy Stucker
Cathy Stucker
interview Albert Nasib Badre about his empowering memoir “Looking West;
The Journey of a Lebanese-American Immigrant”. Readers at Selling Books
are looking forward to learning more about this touching journey.
April 16th @ To
Write or Not to Write with Sreevarsha Sreejith 
Sreevarsha Sreejith
reviews “Looking West” by Albert Nasib Badre. Don’t miss this opportunity
to hear from Sreevarsha and visit To Write or Not to Write.
http://sreevarshasreejith.blogspot.com/
April 16th @ Lisa
Haselton Reviews and Interview
Don’t miss today’s
empowering and honest interview between Lisa Haselton and Albert Nasib Badre –
you will want to learn more about “Looking West; The Journey of a
Lebanese-American Immigrant” in this touching memoir.
April 17th @
Linda Appleman Shapiro
Well known book
reviewer and fellow memoirist Linda Appleman Shapiro reviews “Looking
West; The Journey of a Lebanese-American Immigrant” by Albert Nasib Badre.
April 19th @
Memoir Revolution with Jerry Waxler
Jerry Waxler
thoroughly enjoyed reader “Looking West; The Journey of a
Lebanese-American Immigrant” by Albert Nasib Badre and shares his thoughts
with readers at Memoir Revolution. Don’t miss this insightful review of Badre’s
touching memoir.
April 22nd @ Author
Anthony Avina
Author Anthony Avina
delights readers at his blog as he reviews the moving memoir “Looking
West” by Albert Nasib Badre.
April 23rd @
Beverley A. Baird
Beverley A. Baird
reviews the memoir “Looking West; The Journey of a Lebanese-American
Immigrant” by Albert Nasib Badre.
April 26th @
Breakeven Books
Today’s author
spotlight at Breakeven Books is none other than memoirist and immigrant Albert
Nasib Badre with his touching story “Looking West; The Journey of a
Lebanese-American Immigrant”. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn more
about this inspirational coming of age memoir.
April 30th @
Choices by Madeline Sharples
Today’s guest post
titled “The Backstory: Letters, Photos, and Conversations” is penned
by Albert Nasib Badre. Don’t miss this great post and opportunity to learn
about Badre’s memoir “Looking West; The Journey of a Lebanese-American
Immigrant”
May 1st @ Lisa M. Buske
Description:Fellow author Lisa M. Buske reviews
the inspirational and touching memoir Looking West by Albert
Nasib Badre. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear Lisa’s thoughts on this
powerful story.
May 7th @ Bring
on Lemons with Karen Levy
Israeli-American
author Karen Levy reviews “Looking West; The Journey of a
Lebanese-American Immigrant” by Albert Nasib Badre.

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