[TV/Horror] Buffy The Vampire Slayer – 20th Anniversary

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the first airing of “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”. I got into it sometimes in September of 1997, as it was part of the late Saturday night programming on one of the French TV free-to-air channels. I did not know back then that is was inspired or an attempt to revive the story of a 19XX movie also called “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”, that have similar plot line but for some reasons never went over in Europe or at least never got the exposure it needed. Up until now I did not watch that movie maybe because I could not find the opportunity to put my hands on or perhaps because I am reluctant to watch a cheesy teen-movie from the 80s? I don’t know but lets refocus our attention to the TV series.

At first, I thought it would be just another series, a improbable collision between “Beverly Hills 90210” and vampire themed TV series. Turns out I was wrong and got hooked to it for almost all of the seasons (although I started to let it go by the end of Season 6 for some reasons). The story plot maybe simple but yet it quickly grows in by the characters: the story starts as we follow Buffy Sommers (played by Sarah-Michelle Gellar) and her mother Joyce moving in Sunnydale, a typical Californian suburbia. Things starts pretty mellow as she got introduced to her high-school and things start already to look interesting: Buffy comes in with a probation from her previous school as we was found guilty of arson (she burnt down a whole gym to kill off vampires). This curious detail is rapidly followed by her introduction to Giles, the school librarian. He somehow was aware of her coming and welcomed her with a big old book written “Vampyr” on it, mentioning she maybe surely interested to read into it.

We are also introduced one by one to what will become the “Scooby Gang”, an hodgepodge of various characters very similar to the “Breakfast Club”. All different representative of the teenage tribes: the cheerleader (Cordelia, played by Charisma Carptenter), the nerdy girl (Willow, played by Alisson Hannigan), the dropout student (Xander, played by Alexander Lavelle), the weird but cool guy working on his garage band (Oz, played by Seth Greene) and the mysterious and handsome stranger (Angel, played by David Boreanaz).

The pilot quickly transition from a teenage TV series straight into vampire hunt during the concert scene at “The Bronze”, the local hang-out bar for teenagers. This is where a couple of vampires started an attack on the public and Buffy reveals her true power: a vampire slayer, knowing how to fight (Gellar holds some Tae-Kwan-Doo belt) and give them their death wish with a spike straight into the heart.

All these different ingredients made the series great: the main character was a teenage girl, away from the “blonde stereotype” knowing to kick butts and impale vampires. She had everything to be popular and yet she is an outcast, gravitating around her small circle of friends and her duty as a Chosen one. Buffy struggles to conciliate her school life and her professional life and surely brings on the parallel with many students trying to transition into adulthood by combining part-time jobs and academic performance.

Buffy was indeed a remarkable icon of what many GenX-ers were ongoing back then, growing in a single parent family, dealing with popularity in school and not fitting into the mold. Transitioning from teenage years to adulthood and the turbulences going on with. It brought on some hard times about feelings of love (Buffy/Angel, Xander/Anja), heartbreak (Willow/Oz), death (Angel/Buffy/Joyce), not living to your parents/mentor expectations (Faith and her rebellious stance against the Order, standing by the wrong side and becoming an outcast amongst her friends for the mistakes she had done). Even the most impeccable character (Giles) had his own inner demons, his own dark secrets from his teenage years (we learned that Giles back in his teenage years was a punk dealing with occultism, enough to cause some serious damage).

 But certainly one of the best moment by its ability to break down the 4th wall was that famous episode in which Joyce (Buffy’s Mom) dies at home from an hemorrhagic stroke, right in the middle of a school day. The whole episode is about that day, no music and a clear and nervous photography bringing us as a witness of the moment. We are here, watching Joyce dead and seeing Buffy frantically try to revive her, calling 911, and getting to learn the abrupt news from the doctor: her Mom is dead. Facing death in your teenage years is not easy, facing one of your parent’s death is even less easy. Facing your only parent’s death as you are just trying to get out your teenage years is simply heartbreaking and we as the audience see one of the most gentle character left us without any chance to say goodbye.

What what also great was the inclusion of many things, little details about what we go through during our adolescence. For instance, the opening credentials was performed by Nerf Herder. Rock and its different iterations (punk, metal, alternative, indie….) was the common music playlist for many GenXers and was acting as an inclusive media into the Buffy-verse. But it was not only the opening sequence, it was also part of the social life in that universe. For instance, Joss Whedon was ensuring to use “The Bronze” local concert as a link to reality inviting small rock bands to perform in almost each episodes.  I still remember an episode in which K’s Choice was performing at The Bronze.

Joss also allowed the exploration of different facets of a teenager’s life have to deal with: inclusion and fitting into a group, exploring his/her sexuality and even touching LGBT issues (Willow for instance moving from an heterosexual relationship with Oz into a lesbian relationship with Tara), hate and jealousy (that episode of Tara dying from the jealousy of some nerds, killing her with one of their inventions), self-destruction and suicidal tendencies (I found the character of Spike matching this very-well), path to redemption and getting back in track (Angel’s path to redemption) and ultimately performing the ultimate sacrifice (when Buffy jumps into the vortex in one of a Season finale, giving her life for the sake of the whole humanity).

Rarely such TV series marked a whole generation (especially the GenX generation) as Buffy and even after all these years it shines into my psyche on how this TV series helped me move on into my transition from teenage into adulthood.

[Symphonic Metal] Within Temptation – The Heart of Everything 10th Anniversary

Today marks the 10th release of “The Heart Of Everything”, the fourth album from the Dutch Symphonic Metal band Within Temptation. It is a 11-track album (with two extra tracks in the North American version) totaling over a bit more than 57 mins.
This album has a special place in my heart because it marks a turning point in the band discography by several aspects.
First, I found that Sharon Den Adel, aka “Angel Voice”, reached her full potential in her vocals making it a delight to listen to her soprano voice. That settles for me Sharon with one of the most gracious voice in female-fronted metal bands. Second, the band at this point have successfully transitioned into full symphonic metal and have done a remarkable sound engineering work with the orchestral arrangements and the melodics, making always a 100% hit in my cerebral hedonistic center. In other words, it gives me an acoustic orgasm, each time i hear this album. Third, the lyrics of several tracks are just resonating so well with the tumultuous of this century and still resonate very well ten years after its release.

Let’s go through the album quickly through the track. First, we get introduced to it with “The Howling”, setting up the symphonic gunnery upfront, setting the tone for the album with a well-designed combination between the gracious symphonic elements and the guitar bass shredding.

“What Have You Done Now”, the second track is in my opinion is a weak element but plays straight into the Evanescence playlist and can be considered as a gateway vector for an audience not accustomed to listening metal bands. “Frozen” is a beautiful song and surprisingly would have been a perfect match for the movie “Frozen”, giving it a much darker tone.
“Our Solemn Hour” is one my favorite, opening on with a radio announcement of Wilson Churchill on the declaration of war, decrying the folly and insanity of human mind to war and destruction. “The Heart of Everything”, “Hand of Sorrow” and “The Cross” continues on the magic formula giving us a very strong middle section in the album.
The album then enters into less enjoying tracks (in my opinion) such as “Final Destination”,  “All I Need”. Then came the final act of this serendipitous album with two major favorites: “Stand My Ground”, “The Truth Beneath The Rose” and “Forgiven” bringing on the magic formula once again.

However if I have to pick one song that would be “The Truth Beneath The Rose” nicely orchestrated and dynamic, that is very engaging. The lyrics are straight into fighting the religious zealotry and extremism, calling on rejecting those who praise on killing in the name of the religion as a key to Heaven.

In my personal discography, this is the pinnacle album in Within Temptation’s discography (excluding the Black Symphony that is the live orchestral performance of their discography up to this album). After this album, the band decided to engage into softer stance and into something more accessible for the lay audience. Despite I don’t find the same appeal in their following releases, the band still keep a special place in my heart by being in the front of the gothic/symphonic metal first wave, with the unique voice of Sharon Den Adel.

[Sciences/BBB] #RareDiseases Day 2017: a focus #GLUT1 Deficiency and “LoveSome1withGlut1” fundraising

Today is February 28th. It is also named “Rare Diseases Day” that normally takes place on February 29th but since that day is also rare, we celebrate it on February 28th.
Why celebrate “Rare Diseases Day”? Because as their name suggest, there are diseases that affect only few individual and therefore are classified rare.
Because they are rare, they are under less attention from major healthcare actors at different levels.

From the basic scientist standpoint, these are diseases that are so rare that the interest to fund these diseases are almost zero because budgets are tight and priority is given to research for diseases with a much more prevalence.

From the pharmaceutical company standpoint, these are investment that are risky by their failure and also by the prospect of seeing investment on return. It costs a lot to validate the therapeutic efficacy and ensure the production of these therapeutics into a cGMP grade (pure and safe enough for being used in humans). Therefore, pharmaceutical companies stay away from these diseases and put their bet on safer projects.

From the clinical standpoint, clinicians may encounter only one or two cases during their whole professional career. For families, it is devastating to not put a name on the condition affecting their child for years, only to hear at the end that there is no curative treatment for.

One of these rare diseases is the GLUT1 deficiency syndrome (GLUT1 DS).

Glucose is the number 1 source of energy for eukaryotic cells, from yeasts to human cells. It enters the cells via a transporter (a protein present in the cell membrane). Glucose uptake is indeed ensured by different transporters all belonging to the solute carriers (SLCs) super-family. We have some of these carriers that are sodium-independent (GLUTs) and some sodium-dependent (SGLTs).

The brain is particularly avid of glucose: 25% of our daily glucose uptake is directed strictly to the brain. Considering the small size of the brain (3lbs organ out of a 140lbs individual), you can understand how important glucose is for nerve cells.

The uptake of glucose to the brain is ensured by the presence of several transporters at the blood-brain barrier (BBB), with GLUT1 being the most abundant glucose transporters. There are also reports of other glucose transporters (GLUT3, GLUT4, SGLT1 and SGLT6) but their contribution is less well understood (Meireles et al. 2013). In the brain, astrocytes and neurons also express some glucose transporters (GLUT1 and GLUT3 in astrocytes; GLUT3 in neurons) but it is considered that upon crossing of the BBB that astrocytes reduce such glucose into lactate (a fermentation byproduct of glucose degradation). Such lactate is believed to serve as a rapid source of fuel for neurons.

GLUT1 deficiency syndrome (GLUT1DS) was firstly reported by Pr. Darryl DeVivo (Columbia University, New York, USA) in 1991 (De Vivo et al. 1991) and was characterized by the presence of a low level of glucose in the cerebrospinal fluid (the fluid in which the brain baths in) despite a normal blood glucose level. It was later identified that GLUT1 (encoded by the gene SLC2A1) was responsible of such clinical presentation (Seidner et al. 1998). This condition is affecting children in their infancy resulting in the presence of epileptic seizures that are classified as refractory or “drug-resistant”. Indeed, a recent study suggests that GLUT1 DS is the second most abundant genetic form of childhood epilepsies (Afawi et al. 2016).

Until now, there are no treatment for this condition. The only common symptomatic treatment and intervention is forcing these children bodies to switch their brain metabolism from a carb-inclusive normal diet into a ketogenic diet (similar to the Atkins diet). By removing carbs, you are forcing the brain to fast and solicit lipids from fat storage as a source of energy. These fatty acids can be broken down into ketone bodies (acetoacetate, acetone and beta hydroxybutyrate). These ketone bodies can be transported into the brain via the monocarboxylate transporter 1 (MCT1, another member of the SLC super-family) and serve as alternative fuel. Yet, such treatment is only a temporary fix as it requires an extreme observance of this diet as well non-negligible side effects on the body.

My current research focuses on trying to develop a patient-specific model of the BBB using patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) in order to understand how glucose is uptaken at the BBB and how such mutations impact such uptake. I am still new in the field and it takes time and money to validate such models, as we have to move to incremental steps to validate such models.  However, little things can make changes and it takes a village to raise someone.

Today, I would like to give my thanks for the GLUT1 Deficiency Foundation (http://www.g1dfoundation.org) to support part of my research through their research grant program aimed as a first step to better understand the diseases. Some of my current research would not have been possible without the effort of families that have been actively fundraising and raising awareness about this disease.

The fund I have been awarded through the foundation is simply an amazing effort and reward, as I am grateful for this fund raised through cookie sales, lemonade stands or simply generous donations from anonymous donors.

If everything goes well, the GLUT1 Deficiency Foundation is due for a bi-annual meeting (this July) involving scientists, clinicians, patients and families discussing about the recent research and outcomes obtained both at the bench and the bedside. I am very excited to have my research project moving on and being able to present a poster to this meeting and share how this research grant has been able to help to shed new lights on glucose transport at the BBB and hopefully moving to a diseased model, one little step at the time.

This is why I am thankful to the GLUT1 Deficiency Foundation and please help me support their campaign by helping them to raise funds through their “Love Some1 with Glut1”: http://www.g1dfoundation.org/ways-to-give/donate/.

References:

Afawi, Z., Oliver, K. L., Kivity, S. et al. (2016) Multiplex families with epilepsy: Success of clinical and molecular genetic characterization. Neurology, 86, 713-722.

De Vivo, D. C., Trifiletti, R. R., Jacobson, R. I., Ronen, G. M., Behmand, R. A. and Harik, S. I. (1991) Defective glucose transport across the blood-brain barrier as a cause of persistent hypoglycorrhachia, seizures, and developmental delay. N Engl J Med, 325, 703-709.

Meireles, M., Martel, F., Araujo, J. et al. (2013) Characterization and modulation of glucose uptake in a human blood-brain barrier model. J Membr Biol, 246, 669-677.

Seidner, G., Alvarez, M. G., Yeh, J. I. et al. (1998) GLUT-1 deficiency syndrome caused by haploinsufficiency of the blood-brain barrier hexose carrier. Nat Genet, 18, 188-191.

 

[Movies/SciFi] Turbo Kid (80%)

Sometimes a good surprise can await you around the corner. This was the case of “Turbo Kid”, as it popped as a suggestion on my digital service.
Turbo Kid is a French-Canadian movie written and directed by François Simard, Anouk Whissell, and Yoann-Karl Whissell. Not much famous actors in the cast except with the exception of Michael Ironside (known for his role as Ham Tyler in the original “V” series).
“Turbo Kid” is not totally new to me, as the first iteration known as “T for Turbo” was the prototype for it and frankly it created a huge buzz:

It rightfully made a loud buzz by its VHS feeling of an 80’s post-nuke movie, a kind of genre I have been bottle-fed thanks to the Italian moviemaker. All the ingredients were already in: the post-nuke wasteland, the abandoned quarrel, the Bontempi synthesizers, the cheap gore effect, and the BMX ride. Even the inspiration of the “Cannon Pictures” gives this huge nostalgic vibe.

The plot is fairly simple but fairly fun. The plot takes place in a post-nuke 1997, in a quarrel posing as a wasteland. Water is scarce and became a precious commodity. In a complete anarchy, the law of the jungle prevails: the survival of the fittest.
“The Kid”, the main protagonist, lives on scavenging on his BMX bike and fomenting revenge to Zeus (played by Michael Ironside), as Zeus killed his mom in front of him. Taking courage from reading “Turbo Rider”, a comic book.
One day, the Kid finds Apple, an android girl that quickly becomes attached to him. This only starts the trouble once Apple get kidnapped by Zeus and fleeing from his minions, the Kid ends up in an abandoned vehicle and finds the remain of a certain “Turbo Rider”….

The movie is not aiming very high but it hits hard on the GenXers like me. You could almost believe you have seen this movie as a kid, as the feeling is so genuine to 80’s Sci-Fi B-movies, especially Italian post-nukes: They were cheap, the plot was quite often cheesy. But oh gosh they were great and fun to watch!

Here is the official trailer, you can catch the full movie on Netflix:

[Neurosciences/BBB] Journal Club – Blood–brain barrier and intestinal epithelial barrier alterations in autism spectrum disorders

An interesting paper that was recently published by Fiorentino and colleagues entitled “Blood–brain barrier and intestinal epithelial barrier alterations in autism spectrum disorders”  in Molecular Autism journal. The article is in open-access so you can download the full-article here: (https://molecularautism.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13229-016-0110-z).

In this paper, the used postmortem brain tissue and duodenum tract biopsies samples from patients diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), schizophrenia (SCZ) and compared to controls. They measured changes in tight junctions and inflammation at mRNA and protein levels using qPCR and Western-blot respectively.
One aspect that I found missing in the sample used is the size of the male population, largely bigger than the female population. It would have been neat to have the same population weight (as many male samples than female samples) but you cannot choose the samples you get. Also, the ethnicity is predominantly Caucasian.
The data is interesting but also a bit confusing in terms of statistical analysis, with some p-hacking and data misleading by showing the standard error mean (SEM) instead of standard deviation (SD). The SEM (SEM=√SD/number of samples) has little meaning when your sample size below 100. it just makes the graph nicer, but it does not help the reader to assess the statistics.
At mRNA levels, the authors found an increase in claudin-3, claudin-5, claudin-12 and tricellulin (TRIC) mRNAs in ASD patients compared to SCZ. Now here what bothers me is their selective statistical analysis, almost cherry-picking it. For instance, claudin-3 is increased in both the SCZ and ASD groups. They observed a statistical difference between ASD and control, but mentioned nothing about the SCZ versus control, despite showing similar mean +/- SEM. Now Claudin-5, claudin-12 and tricellulin (TRIC) were selectively increased in ASD patients compared to control, but again they failed to compare SCZ to control samples (side-note: the authors failed to provide the primer sequences for TRIC. Bad job!). Still it is interesting, tight junction (TJ) complexes seem to be up-regulated in ASD patients compared to SCZ and controls. Does it mean the BBB is compromised? At this point, no. Seems even the BBB maybe better.
In the next figure (Fig.2) there are some interesting data but also some dishonest statistics done. The authors consistently compared ASD to SCZ instead of controls. Thats some scientific dishonesty that should have been caught by reviewers. Shame on you reviewers!
Still there are some interesting trends. The authors observe an increase in matrix metalloproteinases (MMP-2 and MMP-9). These are known proteases at the BBB are they are commonly associated with a loss of the BBB during stroke, these MMPs can cleave the basement membrane supporting the BBB and also the TJ complexes. But not much for the other markers used, except maybe a down-regulation in SCZ patients compared to controls. The same sort of p-hacking occurred for looking at inflammatory cytokines (IL-1beta, IL-6 and IL-8). There is not much differences between ASD versus control, but by using the Texas sharpshooter fallacy (by using the SCZ as a “control”) you bring statistical differences where there is not. This is the big problem of this paper: trying to oversell the data using a p-hacking method.
Now expression at mRNA level is not 100% translated in changes at protein levels. in Figure 5 and 6, the authors looked at the changes at protein levels for claudin-5 and claudin-12 The authors used two protein controls: alpha smooth muscle actin (SMA) and beta-actin (ACTIN). ACTIN is a housekeeping gene, it is expressed in all cells at very high level. This is why we use ACTIN as a loading control, to be sure we are observing differences solely based on protein expression not due to differences in amount of total proteins between samples. The use of SMA is smart because it can help determine the amount of medium and large blood-vessels. Capillaries (the vessels carrying on the BBB phenotype) are poor in SMA expression, as they have few smooth muscle cells (SMA is a smooth muscle cell marker). In vessels with higher diameter, you have a intermediate layer (called media) rich in smooth muscle cells. The blots are interesting but I thought the normalization was not great. The authors normalized Claudin-5 and -12 expression against SMA. I would have first show the normalization of these proteins and SMA against actin to have an overall view and show that our samples are not biased (if our samples are random, so should be SMA. However, we are expecting to see a relative similar levels of SMA between the different groups). Interestingly, Claudin-5 protein level is higher in ASD compared to control, whereas claudin-12 is lower.
Figure 7 is in my opinion interesting and confusing in the same time. The reason it is confusing it the experimental design. I have no clues on what the author try to show us. They show a panel of different mRNA expression of different markers for each patients separately. They should have kept the same representation (the average expression of each individuals plotted as dot-plot) as the previous figure. My speculation is that once average, they were facing a important variability in the sample distribution that nothing was likely to come out (likely no observable differences compared to healthy controls). Almost feel like the authors have these piece of extra data with no where to go and used to fill up the paper. It may also explain why the authors failed to show any proteins for these data.
Now, the authors are a bit over-optimistically concluding that there is a leaky BBB in ASD patients. That’s not exactly true for two reasons: claudin-5 levels are higher and they fail to provide adequate data to support this claim. Post-mortem immunostaining against TJ complexes can let measure changes in TJ strands in microvessels. By measuring the average length of these strands, you can speculate a disrupted BBB. In addition, non-invasive MRI (with gadolinium tracer) would help refine this claim and demonstrate evidence of this claim.
The idea of a disrupted BBB in ASD patients is interesting and some of these data are interesting. Yet this study has some issues to convince a BBB expert about the presence of a leaky BBB. Dont let get fooled by some snake oil sellers that will use this paper to support some “leaky brain” or “leaky gut” in ASD patients. This paper show anything except these bogus claims.

[Symphonic Metal] Xandria – Theater of Dimensions (92%)

It has been a while since I did not posted a review on a metal album. Xandria nicely reminded me that it was long due by releasing their latest album “Theater of Dimensions”. Well, what I can tell about Xandria. I really liked their album “Neverworld’s End” fronted by Manuella Kraller. The release of “Sacrificium” and the change in line-up with Dianne Von Giersbergen (ex-Libris) now fronting was letting me skeptical. Don’t take me wrong on this one. Dianne with her prog metal band is simply awesome but I found her a bit in retreat and soft in “Sacrificium”.
I purchased the digital album containing 13 tracks for 75 minutes of some awesomess. There is a deluxe version with four acoustic if you have the extra $$$ for it. I have been running in a loop for the last 72 hours. What I can tell, we have the perfect blend of Xandria taking the best of “Neverworld’s End” and “Sacrificium”. That gives a detonating mixture.
We start with “Where The Heart is Home” bringing the bang and the bombastic symphonics with the metal, with Dianne perfect as ever unleashing her voice into this engaging first track. We rapidly follow with “Death To The Holy” that infuse Celtic influence. This is the main influence of the album, a certain Celtic feeling but also feeling like a Pirate song. Very engaging song and one of my favorites of the album.
“Forsaken Love” dig further into the Celtic influence, nice and very enjoyable ballad to listen. “Call of Destiny” brings on the same tempo than “Nightfall” and “Sacrificium”, fast-paced and heavy. “We Are Murderers” push aside the symphonic elements and put own the heaviness. “Dark Night of the Soul” brings on the enjoyment of the ballad, swinged by Dianne powerful voice. “When The Walls Came Down” brings on the heavy riffs back and the kick that make the Symphonic Metal powerful.
“Ship of Doom” was nice if you are in the mood of some pirates song, arghhh!  If you really like the Celtic tones, jump on “Ceili” blending it with metal and let chill your spine. Very engaging and refreshing to listen to it. “Song For Sorrow and Woe” was okay but not more than that in my opinion. Same as “Burn Me”. “Queen of Hearts Reborn” brings on the Xandria signature: a very delicate dosage of choirs, symphonic and heaviness with Dianne flying high pitches with a grace and an elegance.
Finally, the last track “A Theater of Dimensions”, the piece of resistance (14:24). A very nice song in three acts starting as an acoustic ballad, raising the tone with the heavy elements and riffs and adding the symphonic and getting into the same tones than Dark Sarah, giving this kind of Tim Burtonesque feel to it. A damn good song, that rides like a rollercoaster.
Xandria is back with a bang. Nicely crafting powerful melodics, choirs, heavy riffs and soprano vocals. This album settles Dianne as the perfect singer for the band, only unleashing her impressive voice. If you have never listen to Dianne singing, you have never listen to Symphonic metal. Xandria rightfully earned the title “album of the month” and makes a bang into 2017.

[History] One Hundred Year ago, when America was a haven for refugees…..the story of Abraham Haroutounian

With all these breaking news, I needed to clear my mind and went through my photo library. During my first visit in New York City during the summer 2008, I had a chance to hop in to attend the Ellis Island Immigration Museum and I still remember that travel document (see picture).
This is a document that resonate as today. This document tells the story of another Abraham. Abraham Haroutounian. By the name, you can recognize the Armenian origin of Abraham. Abraham was another refugee from another genocide. Abraham was Turkish citizen and Armenian national. Abraham was born in Marash (renamed Kahramanmaras), a village of Anatolia and lived through the Armenian genocide that took place from 1915 until 1923. We can speculate that following the march through Syria, Abraham found refuge in Aleppo.
After the World War I and the fall of the Ottoman Empire, Abraham likely settled, got married and founded a family. But Abraham was not anymore welcomed in his country and was surely considered a “guest” inside the newly formed Syrian state, a French protectorate. Abraham surely could not forget the horrible genocide he may have witnessed and felt no more secure in this land and seek refuge.
Abraham obtained a immigration visa to the US, with the aim to settle in New York. After obtaining his travel document from the French Administration taking care of Syria, Abraham and his family traveled by boat and landed in Ellis Island, waiting like many other immigrant his clearance and his first step in the United States. I try to imagine what this other Abraham felt when he arrived here in the US, staring at the Statue of the Liberty welcoming new comers as a symbol of democracy, freedom and justice for all.
But I also felt it, when I first came in the US over 7 years ago, with my carry-on, my check-in bag and my cardboard package in which I meticulously packed essential items to survive by my own (pair of sheets, some books, some kitchenwares and a pillow).
Now imagine if Abraham was planning to do the same. As today, Abraham would have been arriving by plane at JFK airport under an immigrant visa. Abraham however would have never leaved his American dream as by now he and his family would have denied entry into the US, on the motive of his Syrian origin.
Whenever you have a chance to visit New York, skip the line for the Statue of Liberty, instead hope in to the ferry taking you to Ellis Island and have a lesson of history. It is a great reminder that those pushing on the travel ban to refugees were also once a son or a daughter of a refugee or immigrant. Remember that any single President of the United States was a son of an immigrant that came in this country with a dream and reaped fruits of hard labor.