That's My Issue Open Phones: Experiences Abroad

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

That's My Issue is our election-year series to gather stories of how personal experience has shaped your politics. You can write your story and create a personalized badge, record your story directly from your computer, read essays, and do lots more on the That's My Issue home page.

Today: A Brian Lehrer Show call-in for anyone who has had an experience abroad that has shaped their politics. Whether you were born in another country and want to discuss your immigrant experience; or simply traveled abroad and changed your politics as a result, give us a call at 212-433-9692.

→ Want to share your story? Do so at the That's My Issue Homepage

Comments [17]

Anne Coe

My sister died from ovarian cancer at age 64. My gyn recommended annual screening until this year when my health care coverage became medicare. She does not believe that medicare covers pelvic ultra sound or CA 125 test. Should I pay ouit of pocket for these tests due to my family history?

Sep. 12 2012 11:21 AM
Eugenia Renskoff from Brooklyn, NY

Hi, I was born in Buenos Aires and came to the U.S. at the age of 10. When I was a kid living in Argentina my father could afford to take us to a doctor, but we could always go to a free hospital in Buenos Aires. The service was very good. in San Francisco, where I grew up, we had Kaiser, also very good. Now I am uninsured and in need of medical and dental care.I cannot afford to pay and the experience of being unprotected health wise is horrible. It is beyond belief. I think everyone deserves free medical care and I am sorry that the U.S., as much as I love this country, does not have that service. Eugenia Renskoff

Aug. 21 2012 03:01 PM

The seminal issue in my youth in Jamaica was the anti- apartheid struggle in SA.
As was the case for most Jamaicans. I later found out that the USA was one of
The biggest supporters of apartheid through financial, military and diplomatic support.
The US vetoed several UN resolutions even criticizing the apartheid regime.
Since then I have never believed in the US talk of support for democracy,Human rights, high moral values, yada yada. I can't reconcile the US support apartheid,Labeling Nelson Mandela a terrorist, supporting his imprisonment and the attendant ills of apartheid.
Now thatE I'm older and seeing the US support for occupations and it's immorality has only reinforced my
View that the US does what's in its interests, not the much oft repeated mantra of
Support for human rights, democracy and all that good stuff that our citizens like to hear about ourselves. So talk
About support for democracy in Iraq, Syria, Iran is not believable to me. Why? because we supported apartheid in SA

Aug. 21 2012 12:26 PM
Max from Northern NJ

I was fortunate enough to have lived and worked outside the United States for four years. For the first two of those four, I lived and worked in Iran (near the end of the Shah's rule). I was able to spend time in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Tanzania, and much of Southeast Asia.

My first lesson taught me how narrow American news reporting is, how few perspectives are presented and portrayed in American media, and how much happening that is important in the world is unknown to Americans. Other countries' media coverage is surprisingly eye-opening. I highly recommend it to all.

My second lesson was how very similar the goals and dreams of all people are, worldwide.

I realized, for example, that both sides are wrong in the Middle East, Palestinians are oppressed, many living in horrific conditions, Israelis live in a constant state of war and acute awareness of real and frequent terrorists' threat.

I learned in Iran, in the context of the overthrow by foreign forces of a democratically elected government, how reprehensible the West's behavior can be for interests as trivial as economic growth.

I learned that many of the problems people face worldwide, both domestic and international, are due to the actions of governments.

In Beirut, Cyprus, Ethiopia, and Eritrea, I learned that the cost of war is borne by civilians, and should be the absolute last resort.

I learned that the United States is just one country of many, and, though that perspective is largely absent here, needs to be adopted before it is forced on Americans from conditions without.

Aug. 21 2012 12:05 PM
LF from NY

Re the comment by the gentleman from India: Having been there and having inlaws who are from India: I have never seen so much abject poverty and rampant graft anywhere. People live in disease and life is cheap. 'Pull themselves up by their bootstraps' indeed -People want to survive- The day that the US becomes India will be the day that we should crawl back into the primordial ooze.

Aug. 21 2012 12:04 PM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

I’d like Mr. Roonie to go to a Bombay/Calcutta slum and stay for month and see how he likes it. Thanks Brian for reading the comments of a privileged person.

Aug. 21 2012 12:00 PM
Cory from NYC

With the first caller, I really wish that Brian would have discussed the issue of Israel and the West Bank/Occupied Territories regarding how she perceived the region to resemble apartheid-era South Africa. It sounded like Brian was avoidant of the issue (or sexist, having then allowed several men to go on and on with their personal stories).

Aug. 21 2012 12:00 PM
Dina from Brooklyn

I was in Albania as a Peace Corps was 1992-4 and the host family with whom I lived with was watching the US elections closely. When it was time for the inauguration my host father turned to me and said how incredible it was that in my country people can change leaders with a handshake.

Aug. 21 2012 11:57 AM
Marija from NYC

I came from post-war Serbia and expirienced a cultural shock when I first watched The Daily Show of Jon Stewart. He was mocking then president Bush and I couldnt belive it! Back home we had a law that specifically prohibits bed-mouthing of the president. So I honestlly expected that Jon Stewart will be arrested soon.

Aug. 21 2012 11:57 AM
Henry from Manhattan

My mother was Jamaican so I spent a few months in Jamaica as a child, even went to school briefly, and I do tend to think that subconsciously it did influence me. It just gave me a difference perspective on lifestyle.

The time I spent was relatively short, but I have a large chunk of childhood memories and lessons learned relating to the experience.

Aug. 21 2012 11:54 AM
Lisa in westchester

Having grown up never having to think about being able to afford healthcare I took the British National Health Service for granted until I moved to the States - boy, do I appreciate it now! I continue to pay my National Insurance contributions in the UK even though I could opt out.

Aug. 21 2012 11:51 AM
DanielGr from Munich

I left NYC, where I was born and raised, about a decade ago for Germany and living here has certainly had a big impact on my political views: it's made me even more progressive than I would have counted myself before leaving. It's also saddened me quite a lot that the US can't seem to give its citizens the same security that most other developed nations do. I'm referring to affordable healthcare (with no profit allowed for providing coverage), affordable/free higher education, welfare & unemployment money, government funded maternity and paternity leave; and those are just the first things I could think of---the list can go on.

Aug. 21 2012 11:49 AM
Jenna from UES

Mitt Romney also lived in a mansion in France for most of his time there.

Aug. 21 2012 11:49 AM

Having lived in a poor country, I am grateful for most of the "issues" we American bicker about.

Our poor people are too fat!

Our electricity problem is that it is too expensive!

Our scariest politicians are mean-spirited!

Our environmental problems stem from simple overconsumption and lack of simple regulations!

As a result, my biggest frustration is when Americans don't understand or exercise the incredible power they have -- often simply by picking up the phone.

Aug. 21 2012 11:49 AM
Judy from Manhattan

I, like Carolita, lived in France for quite some time (6 years) and was also only semi legal (I had student papers which allowed me to work P/T sort of) , while my American musician boyfriend was not legal at all.
It shaped my sympathy to immigrants here in the states. I know what it feels like to be on the outside of the culture and deal with all the secrecy and uncertainty and rumors.

I also benefited from the French healthcare system, was never turned away from a Dr or hospital.

I taught English to French and others and my students were always amazed at the lack of affordable healthcare and lack of maternity leave for Americans. they would say"but America is the richest country in the world!"

Aug. 21 2012 11:48 AM
Kate from Washington Heights

I was in Mexico in the summer of 2000, when Vicente Fox was elected from the PAN party. It was the first truly fair election in Mexico in decades, and removed the PRI party from power. I was in awe of how their national election commission was determined to be certain that everyone in the country understood the ballot and understood the process. There were CONSTANT commercials that showed the actual ballot that people would encounter on election day. The ballots had photos, not just written names of candidates, so that the illiterate could vote as easily as the literate. All over the city where I was (Cuernavaca), there were practice election booths on the streets. I was invited to practice voting at a practice voting booth on the street. I said I wasn't a citizen, and the friendly people said I could do a practice ballot anyway, just for fun. I was given a copy of the ballot I would have been given on election day (it had something like "This is a sample" stamped all over it), and I was taught exactly how I would mark the ballot and what I would do with it after I'd voted. Mexico did it right. That was July 2000. A few months later came the 2000 elections in the US. What a contrast.

Aug. 21 2012 11:10 AM
carolita from NYC

I lived in France for over a decade, and half of that time I spent as an illegal immigrant. If I needed a doctor, I could walk into any clinic in Paris, and see one. They were all clean and efficient, and I'd have to pay full price, but even full price was so cheap that I was grateful. When I got my working papers, like a good citizen I paid a hefty chunk of my income towards that same national healthcare, but the system seemed so fair and so beneficial that I was proud -- proud! -- to contribute. When my neighbor broke her leg, I knew my money was going towards taking care of her needs. I knew that if I ever had an accident or major illness, I'd be taken care of in part by her contributions. It seemed so humane, so civilised. When I came back to NYC and heard the term "self-pay" (I didn't even know what the word was! I heard "selpé?", and thought they were trying to speak French) and saw my first bill, I was appalled. When I heard about a friend who was waiting to hear if the insurance she got from her job would cover her cerival cancer treatments, I just couldn't believe it. Hearing about people going broke due to medical expenses made me feel as if I'd returned to Dickens novel or something.

Aug. 21 2012 10:33 AM

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