Apr. 24/09: Here's lookin' at you...


Nick Purdon in for SYL.

I want to introduce you to Ali Saeed. Ali is the subject of a documentary called "Memories of a Generation: The Story of Ali Saeed and Other Ethiopian Political Victims." You can watch the trailer here.

But Ali also has a story about eye contact that is one of the funniest and most poignant tales I've heard in a long time.

When Ali came to Winnipeg from Ethiopia in the 1980s, he wanted to fit in. So he did what a lot of new immigrants do. He went to the international centre and picked up a newcomers handbook. It explained how to catch a bus. How to go to the hospital. How to find a job.

So Ali applied for work at few factories. He eventually got an interview.

That's when he turned to page 192 in the little booklet. There, it outlined the importance of making eye contact in Canada, if you want to land a job.

Now making eye contact wasn't natural for Ali. In Ethiopia it could be a sign of disrespect. And so Ali had to practice. The night before his first job interview he sat with his wife, at their kitchen table, and he stared at her. It drove her nuts.

The next day Ali went for his interview and he never stopped staring wide-eyed at the interviewer.

Listen to DNTO the radio show to find out how things turn out for Ali.

But around here we were inspired by Ali's story. By the complexity of such a seemingly simple human interaction, as two people looking at one another. The more we started to look into the intricacies of making eye contact, the more we couldn't pull our eyes away.

So we decided to share what we've found with you.

We ask the question: "Is it possible to 'conquer' your world by mastering the art of eye contact?"

Hope you can meet our gaze and listen to, or download DNTO.


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