Back in America

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April 2, 2020  

Jessica Baxter - Princeton High School Principal - Adjusting to remote learning during the coronavirus pandemic


I am Stan Berteloot and this is Back in America. Today I am speaking via Skype with Princeton High School Principal Jessica Baxter.

Jessica, as most school leaders across the globe, is faced with the challenging task of adjusting to the reality of the Coronavirus pandemic.

When the school closed, initially for two weeks on March 16 putting in place remote learning was only part of what had to be done. The staff at PHS had to ensure that every kid had access to a computer and the Internet. Curriculums had to be adjusted for kids to learn online.

Strategies had to be put in place to ensure well being of students.

Jessica, when we prepared this interview you told me that you are reassessing and re-planning what you do, not day to day, but minute to minute.

Thank you for taking the time to speak with Back in America and to share your experience keeping Princeton High School strong for the students and their families.

Jessica's book suggestions

Daring Greatly, by Brown, Brene, Ph.D. 

Tell Me Who You Are: Sharing Our Stories of Race, Culture, & Identity
by Winona Guo, Priya Vulchi

March 19, 2020  

Richard Heinberg: on building resilient communities - transitioning away from fossil fuels - Coronavirus - Collapse (effondrement)


I am Stan Berteloot and this is Back in America. Today I am speaking with Richard Heinberg a Senior Fellow at the Post Carbon Institute, and one of the world’s foremost advocates for a shift away from our current reliance on fossil fuels.

Richard has written for many publications including Nature, Reuters, Wall Street Journal, The American Prospect, Public Policy Research, Quarterly Review just to name a few. He’s been quoted by Reuters, the Associated Press, and Time Magazine, and has appeared on Good Morning America, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Al-Jazeera, and C-SPAN, NPR and others. Leonardo DiCaprio’s called on Richard’s expertise for his documentary the 11th Hour.

Richard, I wanted to speak with you about a topic that’s increasingly present in Europe and which is making its way into North America that’s the concept of our society’s collapse or l’effondrement has it is now called in French.

The idea is that the process by which basic needs (water, food, shelter, clothing, energy, etc.) are no longer provided (at a reasonable cost) to a majority of the population by services regulated by law. 

As Pablo Servigne puts it, collapse is both distant and close, slow and fast, gradual and brutal. It involves not only natural events but also (and above all) political, economic and social shocks, as well as events of a psychological nature.

Collapse means that our fossil fuel-based civilization, cannot sustain itself and will fail. 

People that study how societies collapse believe that tomorrow is going to be very different from today. That no green energy and no technology are going to save our way of life. Not even the concept of degrowth will work since we can’t force humanity into stopping production and consumption, especially in developing countries. So yes, they say, we are running into a wall.

But what’s interesting is that that same person, those that a convinced that we will sooner or later collapse are also full of hope. They say that we have to do everything we can today to smoothen this collision. We have to decelerate, we have to put on our seatbelt and prepare everyone for the shock.

They are convinced that preparing for the world to come will give us hope as we work to create for a better society, more collective and resilient.


Richard's List of Books

Surviving the Future: Culture, Carnival and Capital in the Aftermath of the Market
by David Fleming

Lean Logic: A Dictionary for the Future and How to Survive It Hardcover
David Fleming


And here is a link to Richard's many books



March 12, 2020  

Ron Menapace - Homestead Princeton - From Pharma to business owner: Challenges and opportunities in America


Matt Dubberke, Ron Menapace, Fernando Freitas from Homestead Princeton

Ron Menapace owner of Homestead #Princeton talks about his experience from corporate America working in sales for a #Pharma company to creating a home décor and furniture store in Princeton. He shares his challenges competing against large online retailers and the commoditization of furniture as well as his fears of a business slowdown due to the #Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. 

Princeton Homestead is a furniture and home décor store specialized in custom barn wood furniture located in the heart of Princeton, on Palmer square. 

Ron's dad was a carpenter, after a degree in Sport Management Ron also had a stint at woodwork, fixing and refurbishing furniture. Yet he went on to work in sales for a large pharma corporation. 12 years later, however, he and his wife Kristen decided to follow their dreams and, in 2011, opened what was then called the Farmhouse.


February 27, 2020  

Trailer - Back in America - A podcast questioning our understanding of America


Hi, my name is Stan Berteloot. I'm a French journalist living in Princeton, New Jersey and I'm the host of Back in America.

In this podcast, I explore what makes America, America. To do this. I've met with black activists, abuse survivors, men questioning traditional masculinity, business people, teachers, gay dancers, and politicians

"Well I love America, I think they're very few places in the world. Where are young foreigners can come And be established on a completely equal footing to people who grow up in the culture"

"At no point in time in the history of this country was a black man allowed to be fully seen and to fully represent himself as a man"

"To be American to me is to make your dreams truly come true I mean, I dreamt of being a principal dancer. being gay and married to a man and having children. That was my dream when I was little."

"I was 12. We were also expected, just as we would have if we had been in Mexico is to help contribute to the family and so we went to work in the fields."

"We were all sold a lie that holding in our feelings and not sharing them not talking about them equated with manhood"

"My father was a nuclear engineer and while he was a brilliant man. He was also a monster. My abuse started very young when I was a toddler."

"This young lady. Fade in a meeting which was right on the money. You always talk to us about living in the past or can we get away from the past? How can we get away from the past when the past presents itself in the present?"

In this podcast, I want to understand why people do the things they do. What drives them? And how this culture and this country, is influencing them. Don't miss upcoming episodes of Back in America.

Subscribe now wherever you get your podcast!


February 20, 2020  

Carole Jury - ‘La femme de…’ se réinvente aux Etats-Unis et devient artiste peintre | In French


Je suis Stan Berteloot et vous écoutez Back in America, un podcast où j’explore la société américaine à travers des parcours de vie hors du commun !

Cette interview est pour la première fois en français.

Mon invitée est la peintre française Carole Jury. Carole vit à Princeton dans le New Jersey depuis cinq ans. Elle est à l’origine du groupement « Women Artists I From France to USA ». Hyper active, et de plus en plus sollicitée, elle expose aux quatre coins des Etats-Unis, en Europe et à Dubaï.

La peinture a toujours eu une place centrale dans la vie de cette femme de 44 ans, mais l’art restait un hobby, une passion jusqu’à son installation à Princeton, dans le New Jersey avec son mari Kamel et ses trois enfants.

Avant de signer sa lettre de démission, Carole était responsable de la communication d’une grande entreprise de l’industrie chimique et pour elle l’idée de rester à la maison, loin de ses racines et sans sa propre identité, était une perspective inédite et difficile.

Lorsque nous avons préparé cet entretien, Carole m’a dit, “Je suis devenue ‘la femme de mon mari’. Ne plus avoir de profession c’était comme perdre mon identité.”

En effet d’après le baromètre seuls 14% des professionnelles envoyées à l’étranger sont des femmes, qui partent en solo pour un tiers d’entre elles. En conséquence, dans 91% des cas, le conjoint d’expatrié est une femme, qui met très souvent sa carrière entre parenthèses.
Par ailleurs, malgré un niveau d’études élevé (un bac + 4 et trois langues parlées dans 72% des cas), seule la moitié des conjoints qui veulent travailler – ils sont 8 sur 10 – trouve un emploi sur place.

C’est donc dans ce contexte que Carole devient consultante en communication pour des entreprises françaises installées aux Etats-Unis.

Mais la peinture ne te quitte pas et, un an après son arrivée, elle s’y consacre à temps plein.

Sa recommandation de livre :

L'amie prodigieuse, Elena Ferrante


Sa présence en ligne :

Le site web de Carole Jury





February 13, 2020  

Princeton University Janitor & Mailman Tommy Parker Talks of Reparations and Civil Rights


Today I am speaking with someone who wants to be a voice for the voiceless.

Someone passionate about civil justice. I am talking with Thomas Parker or Tommy, as he likes to be called.
Tommy is 67. He was hired as a janitor in 1979 by Princeton University and joined the Print and Mail Services of the University in 1983.

In 2011 The University recognized your social engagement with the Martin Luther King Day Journey Award, for Lifetime Service for your role as an advocate and adviser to co-workers and your dedication to community service.
Indeed you work hard both at the university and in the community where you lead numerous organizations to help the underprivileged.

In the early nineties, you organized, with the Labor Relations Director Fred Clarke the first Labor & Management Committee on campus to help with day to day processes of contract enforcement and mutual considerations for bargaining unit protection under the collective bargaining agreement. Today, you are the president of Princeton’s Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 175.

Freedom Riders

In this interview, Tommy talks about the Freedom Riders who were civil rights activists who rode interstate buses into the segregated southern US in 1961 and after to challenge the non-enforcement of the Supreme Court decisions which ruled that segregated public buses were unconstitutional. The Southern states had ignored the rulings and the federal government did nothing to enforce them. The first Freedom Ride left Washington, D.C. on May 4, 1961.

Reparations for Slavery

I ask Tommy about what he thinks of Reparations to the African American and he mentions the 40 acres and a mule, which is part of Special Field Orders No. 15, a post-Civil War promise proclaimed by Union General William Tecumseh Sherman on January 16, 1865, to allot family units, including freed people, a plot of land no larger than 40 acres (16 ha). However, according to Wikipedia, Freed people widely expected to legally claim 40 acres of land (a quarter-quarter section) and a mule after the end of the war. Some freedmen took advantage of the order and took initiatives to acquire land plots along a strip of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida coasts. However, Lincoln's successor, President Andrew Johnson explicitly reversed and annulled proclamations such as Special Field Orders No. 15 and the Freedmen's Bureau Act.


Thomas Parker books suggestions are:

Man Child in the Promised Land
by Claude Brown

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
by Maya Angelou


February 6, 2020  

John Lam: Boston Ballet Principal Dancer a Gay Vietnamese-American Reflects on his life Leading to Coming out, Marrying and Having two Kids


I am speaking with John Lam, the principal dancer at the Boston Ballet.

John is joining me via Skype from his home in Quincy Massachusetts.

His parents immigrated to California from Vietnam. He grew up in an underprivileged household and discovered his love for dance at the age of 4 at Marin Ballet, through the Performing Stars of Marin a children's program that has helped some of the most impoverished children in the Bay Area. 

John’s parents were definitely not expecting him to be gay, become a professional dancer, mary a man and raise two sons. He constantly had to fight against the expectations of his culture, his peers, and his family.

John Lam: When John was 14,  at Marin Ballet, Mikko Nissinen cast the young dancer. 16 years later, John and Mikko continue to work together, John as Principal Dancer and Mikko as Boston Ballet's Artistic Director.

At age 35 John is the first Vietnamese American male in history to become a principal dancer in a major ballet company.

At the beginning of the podcast, I mention a story in Dance Magazine that states that almost 60% of the men in dance companies were gay. The same article writes that as if to protect their own macho image,  Americans, in particular, love to embrace the idea that the stereotype of male dancers automatically being gay. Here is the link 


February 5, 2020  

Quick Up-Date: Gay, Dad & Principal Dancer Coming-up + Follow-up on Social Media

Hello back in America fans!

This is just a quick update - Tomorrow on Thursday at 8 PM we are releasing an amazing interview of the principal dancer at the Boston Ballet. John Lam is the son of Vietnamese refugees. He grew up in a poor neighborhood of San Fransisco, is gay which in his parents' culture is pretty tough, yet he married a man and had two sons.

I look forward to your comments after you’ve heard this amazing story

Talking of engaging with my listeners.

If you want to know more about the adventure of back in America if you want to see behind the scene video if you want to hear soundbites from my interviews before they are aired or if you just want to reach out and give feedback follow back in America on the social media
on Instagram Facebook and on YouTube, just search for Back in America.

Once again if you like back in America make sure you share it with your friends, with your family, and help people discover the podcast it would mean a lot to me.

January 30, 2020  

Hilary Porta - “I had to be broken so I could be used”: a story of rebuilding one’s life to help others become unstoppable


Hilary Porta is a leading mindset expert and life architect who helps people design a career and life they love by combining neuroscience-based mindset coaching to shatter the mental limits and provide strategy and a framework for an epic life.

Hilary travels across the globe not only speaking on stages both domestically and internationally but also where she helps Fortune 500 CEOs, professional motorsport as well as pro sports (think: Formula One driver, NFL ) to level up and become unstoppable.

However, life hasn’t always been easy for Hilary. She went through some very dark times but that's where she learned the power of resilience and choice and has turned her loss into leverage.


Hilary Porta's website


Hilary recommends a Netflix Series and a book:



January 23, 2020  

Elan Leibner - From Israel kibbutz to the Waldorf School of Princeton: a story of passion for education


In this episode, we explore the idea behind a school system created 100 years ago in Germany and which is increasingly popular throughout the world: the Waldorf education based on the educational philosophy of Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Anthroposophy.

My guest is Elan Leibner the chair of the Pedagogical Section Council of North America and a teacher at the Waldorf School of Princeton. Elan grew up in Israel, lived in a kibbutz, and moved to the US at the age of 23. He married Tertia, the woman who recruited him to teach at Waldorf. He was a class teacher at there for 18 years, before directing the Teacher Education program at Emerson College in England.

Altogether, he has been involved in Waldorf education for almost thirty years.

Anyone researching Waldorf School on Google quickly realizes that the school has many fans but also some skeptics.

Waldorf School of Princeton 
Instagram: @princetonwaldorf
Twitter: @NJwaldorf

Elan recommends two movies:

What Dreams May Comes 
Round Midnight 

January 16, 2020  

Councilwoman Leticia Fraga - From Mexico to Princeton, NJ - A story of immigration and integration in America


Leticia Fraga is the first Latinx ever elected to Princeton Municipal Government.

She has many responsibilities in Princeton. Born in Mexicali, Mexico, Leticia is one of eight children. At the age of 12, she immigrated to the US, settling in Washington State with her family.

During their first five years in the US, she worked in the fields, side by side with her siblings and parents.

With their earnings, the Fraga family was eventually able to purchase their plot of land on which they cultivated asparagus.

In this episode, Leticia shares her experience as a young Mexican immigrant, her first meal at KFC, her difficulty settling in Princeton and how she made it to an elected councilwoman.
Leticia also shares her hope for some of the large projects she is currently working on.

For more information about Leticia Fraga visit her website (you will find the photo that she describes in this episode)


Links to the books mentioned in this episode

Enrique's Journey: The Story of a Boy's Dangerous Odyssey to Reunite with His Mother

American Dirt: A Novel

Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust


January 5, 2020  

Chris Tyler - Part 3 of 3 - On white men’s privileges and reparations to African-Americans


This is part 3, the final part of my interview with Chris Tylor, in parts 1 and 2 we learned how he worked as a carpenter for 15 years. How he went on to lived in a Zen monastery for a year before deciding to go back to university for graduate social studies.

Here in episode 11, part 3 we talk about white men's privileges and reparations to the African-Americans.

How can white, educated men deal with the reckoning of their privileges?

As often in this podcast, I will ask Chris where he thinks this country will be in five years from today and what it means to be an American.

Music from Kabbalistic Village

January 4, 2020  

Chris Tyler - Part 2 of 3 - Helping men break free from trauma and abusive behaviors


In part 2 of my interview with Chris Tyler, we talk about his experience working with victims of domestic violence.

Chris is now a student in social studies and works with abusers. This conversation brings us on the topic of masculinity.

Chris is helping men step out of a cycle of trauma and abusive behaviors.

He talks about the social stereotypes of men and how to deal with them.

Listen to episode 11 part 3, the third and final episode of this conversation. Chris will dive into the notion of privileges.

How can white educated men deal with the reckoning of their privileges?

Chris will also discuss the difficult topic of reparation to the African-American.


Music from Kabbalistic Village

January 3, 2020  

Chris Tyler - Part 1 of 3 - A carpenter becomes a Zen monk for a year


I have edited my interview with Chris Tyler into three installments.

In part 1 we meet Chris. After being a carpenter for 15 years he is thinking about becoming a monk in a Zen monastery.
We discover what its like to seat for hours practicing mindfulness. Chris shares moments of doubt and awakening when what he calls a 'voice,' helps him move forward with his new life.

Listen to part 2 to hear Chris talk about his experience working with victims of domestic violence.

He wants to help men step out of a cycle of trauma and abusive behaviors.

This conversation brings us on the topic of masculinity.

Music from Kabbalistic Village

December 20, 2019  

Cassandra Shuck - A survivor of abuse now leads a women-only marketing agency for women business owners


In this installment is speak with Cassandra Shuck from Hunterville, North Carolina. I met Cassandra, at a press event in New York last October and her story immediately struck me as amazing.

She had a very tough, abusive childhood, struggled with her first husband, yet she managed to move on to become the incredible woman she is today.
After a successful corporate career, Cassandra now heads a global marketing agency which quite unique in that all of her staff and all of her clients are women business owners.
For more information on Cassandra Shuck go to



December 13, 2019  

Seattle Adventurer Erden Eruç and his wife Nancy Board reflect on love, depression and a Viking expedition


Erden Eruç, a Turkish-American adventurer, is the 1st man to do a solo a circumnavigation by human power. He has done it on a 24-foot ocean rowing boat. He & his wife Nancy Board joined Back in America to discussed the challenges and the mental health issues experienced by Erden upon return.
Now Erden embarks on a new adventure, the #Themidgardexpedition to explore sustainable ways to live.


Website and crowdfunding site:



Music from Kabbalistic Village

December 7, 2019  

Denis Devine - Fishtown, Philly - a non-traditional dad, an engaged citizen, a climate activist

In this episode of Back in America, I meet with Denis Devine a 46 years old man from Fishtown, Philadelphia. Denis, an ex-journalist, is the organizer of Dad's night a monthly meeting of men.

For the last 6 years, Denis' Dads Night has brought together dads from his neighborhoods at different bars.
The idea of dad's group, which count 350 members, came to him one day at a play-ground when he was watching over his kids.
This safe space allows men to address topics related to dad-hood, dads-related cause, and non-traditional understandings of masculinity.

In Back in America Denis talks about how he came to realize what toxic masculinity behaviors are after being beat-up one day, after school. He had the chance to be mentored by one of his school provisor who told him to embrace empathy and to express his emotions.

In the interview, we also talk about the links between the traditional behavior associated with masculinity and the marketing promotion of the fossil fuel industry.

Denis raises his children to behave in an environmentally conscious way and he wants to help them to understand how their lives will be affected by climate change.

Denis and his wife gave-up their car last year, ride on a cargo-bike for his current job and to take his kids to school. He turns the heat down in winter and the AC off in summer.


Music from Kabbalistic Village

December 3, 2019  

Liliana Morenilla - A life dedicated to immigrants in Princeton, NJ


Hello Liliana,

I meet you a few weeks ago and I immediately realized that you are a pillar of the Latino community here in Princeton.

You work for Princeton public schools and for the Princeton township human services department.

You are highly educated: you have a law degree from the University of Madrid and a Minor in international law from Harvard.

You've moved to Princeton in 2007 and a year later you were already deeply involved as a volunteer helping the immigrant community.

In 2010 you joined the board of the Koko Fund which subsidizes after school activities for children whose family can't afford it.

And in 2015, you were officially working as a community outreach liaison for the Princeton Public Schools. At the same time, you started distributing food for the needy in a program that was officially recognized as the Henry Pannell Mobile Food Pantry in 2018

Today you are part of Solidaridad that assists the immigrant community and the Princeton Children fund and other food sharing association which we will cover on another podcast.

Recently you became the Princeton coordinator for the Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund (LALDEF) a program that assists first-generation immigrants in going to college.

Last May, the Princeton Council recognized you for your work for the community, the students and their families.

It seems that you’ve always lived to give and to help others. Is that so? If I could have asked your mother: ‘How old was Lily when you first realized that she cared so much for other people, what do you think she would she have told me?



Music from Kabbalistic Village

November 25, 2019  

Sheri Kurdakul CEO of VictimVoice tells her story of abuse that started when she was a toddler


For the first installment of a series on amazing survivors of domestic violence, I speak with Sheri Kurdakul from Princeton, NJ. Sheri is the CEO and founder of VictimsVoice an app that provides a legally admissible way for victims to document abuse incidents.

Sheri speaks with Back in America about her father’s abuse that started when she was a toddler, her recovery from post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD and how she reclaimed her life to become who she is today.

In the United States, an average of 20 people experiences intimate partner physical violence every minute.

This equates to more than 10 million abuse victims annually.

1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience severe intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner contact, sexual violence, and/or intimate partner stalking with impacts such as injury, fearfulness, posttraumatic stress disorder, use of victim services


Photo (C) Kapu Patel 

November 18, 2019  

Author Robert Kandell talks about the American Man and Toxic Masculinity



This is the third installment of Back in America
In this podcast,​ I explore unique and amazing American stories from my multicultural perspective.

This episode is part of a series on masculinity in America. Here I speak to Robert Kandell an author and coach. I met Robert in New York as he was promoting his book, unHIDDEN - 'A book for Men and Those Confused by Them'.

I speak with Robert about how his own personal challenges prompted him to work on masculinity.

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