Northern Virginia Ethical Society (NoVES)

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What Being American Means to Me

  • Sunday, February 18, 2018
  • 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM
  • Green Hedges School

A discussion panel hosted by NoVES members Govind Nair and Jaime Argandona and featuring NoVES members Elham Hassan, Victoria Hernandez, Jim Ball, and Tom Nyilasi, and chaired by NoVES leader Randy Best.

The panel will look at personal immigrant as well as current family biographies, and discuss how this shapes one's identity as an American. We will also look at the challenges and opportunities America faces as an immigrant nation.

Elham Hassen, MD, is an American-Ethiopian public health practitioner. She began her medical career in HIV/AIDS research at Johns Hopkins before joining a global reproductive health non-profit organization.


Tomas Nyilasi, an American entrepreneur, was born in Budapest, Hungary. His parents fled communist Hungary when he was a child and immigrated to the United States as political refugees.  He has lived all over the United States, but was brought to the East Coast when he attended college at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh. He was subsequently recruited to work in the DC Metro area where he still resides with his wife and two children. 

Jim Ball is a writer with a day job at a consulting firm. His mother, born in Belgium, met a U.S. soldier, Jim’s father, during WWII. His father’s family settled in Western New York speaking German in the 1860s. Jim’s grandmother and step-grandfather chain migrated from Belgium about the time Jim was born.


Govind Nair, an economist, consultant, and university instructor, is a dual national of two multi-cultural immigrant nations - USA and Australia. He was born in Singapore of parents of South Indian ancestry, spent his childhood in Malaysia, and has lived in France, Australia, Panama, and Indonesia, in addition to spending more than half his life in the USA.

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