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When Jason DeParle first moved into Tita Comodas’ shanty in the Manila slums, it was understandably awkward. He was a newspaper reporter who had received a grant to study poverty in the Philippines, and she happened to say yes to the nun who was asking people to allow him to board.
The first days of DeParle’s stay in the Comodas household, everyone was polite, overly polite, and it was clear that DeParle was a guest and an outsider. But the ice broke when DeParle tried and failed to help Comodas as she was gluing newspapers together to use as paper bags.
“I botched it so bad, she teased me and said she was going to mark them ‘Made in the USA,’” he said.
From that moment, he built a relationship with the Comodas family, staying with them off and on for the next eight months and following their story over three decades.
Family - Story - Book - Provider - Who
He focuses on this family’s story in his most recent book, “A Good Provider Is One Who Leaves,” telling how, over time, members of the family worked many foreign jobs to gradually improve the family’s livelihood back home.
DeParle is a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist and a senior writer at The New York Times.
Faith - Leadership - Chris - Karnadi - Duke
He sat down with Faith & Leadership’s Chris Karnadi while at Duke to deliver the 2019 Crown Lecture in Ethics. He spoke of the Comodas family’s resilience and reliance on their faith, as well as the impact of immigration on America’s religious landscape. The following is an edited transcript.
Faith & Leadership: You went to the Philippines to research poverty. So how did the theme of immigration come up?
Jason - DeParle - Fellowship - Philippines - Journalism
Jason DeParle: I won a fellowship to go to the Philippines. I took a sabbatical from journalism; I didn’t go to Manila as a journalist. I went to try to get as close...
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