STEVE INSKEEP, host:
Our commentator Frank Deford has been part of this program for years, and he has our next interview for the National Day of Listening project. This is an effort to help you sit down with a loved one or friend and talk and listen. We're hoping you can do that on Friday this year and each year for what could be a new holiday tradition, the day after Thanksgiving. Usually, people sit down with somebody they know well, but Frank Deford sat down with the person he felt like he should know well. Her name is Jenni Lipa, and she is his travel agent.
FRANK DEFORD: The reason I wanted to talk to you is we've known each other for 20 years. I've met you once, and all we do is talk on the phone, yet we don't really know each other. That's sort of stupid when you think about it. Is this the way it is with most of your clients?
Ms. JENNI LIPA (Travel Agent): Most of my clients I never really get to meet, and yet I tend to know them intimately. They don't know too much about me, but I know a lot about them, you know, their kids, and if they're going to the doctor, or whatever. And I tend to be kind of like a psychotherapist for some of them. So this is why when you wanted to talk about me and find out about me, I was truly honored.
DEFORD: So people don't ask about you.
Ms. LIPA: Right.
DEFORD: You come from South Africa? When did you leave?
Ms. LIPA: I left in 1977. We were always brought up trying to fight apartheid.
Ms. LIPA: And my parents were very involved politically. And they said, you know, this is not going to be your country to live in, because we don't think we're going to beat apartheid.
DEFORD: But you left precisely because of the political situation.
Ms. LIPA: Absolutely, yeah. My dad was a POW in Germany in the second world war. He fought for the English, managed to get out alive, and he - this is why he got involved in politics when he was in South Africa.
DEFORD: So you left and found your way...
Ms. LIPA: I left and found my way to New York.
DEFORD: And you've never left?
Ms. LIPA: No, I've never left.
DEFORD: Have you been back to South Africa?
Ms. LIPA: I was back a couple of years ago, and I intend going early next year.
DEFORD: Tell me about the return.
Ms. LIPA: It was so nice to be able to be free. I remember being in a nail salon that was owned by a woman who lived in Soweto. And there was another black woman who was giving me a pedicure. And there was an Indian woman there. And they said that things hadn't changed so much. And I said, whoa. Thirty-five years ago, you wouldn't be able to own it. You wouldn't be able to come here and be a client. And you wouldn't be able to work here. So things have changed a lot.
DEFORD: By the way, when you first left South Africa. Did people look at you with a jaundice eye, in other words...
Ms. LIPA: Definitely.
DEFORD: This must be. Yeah, racist.
Ms. LIPA: Yeah, and I was very ashamed to say that I was South African at that stage.
Ms. LIPA: And it took Nelson Mandela to come out for me to change and say, wow, you know, I'm proud to be a South African.
DEFORD: Anything you want to ask me?
Ms. LIPA: How are your children?
DEFORD: One of them's getting married.
Ms. LIPA: Christopher(ph)?
DEFORD: No, my baby's getting married.
Ms. LIPA: Your baby's getting married.
DEFORD: My baby is getting married.
Ms. LIPA: Who you adopted.
DEFORD: Who we adopted. She's getting married in January.
Ms. LIPA: Scarlet. Congratulations.
DEFORD: Oh, you're good. You can remember. Yeah.
Ms. LIPA: Well, give my best to Carol.
DEFORD: I will. Thank you. And thank you, Jenni.
Ms. LIPA: Yeah, and happy Thanksgiving, and happy holidays.
DEFORD: That's right, same to you.
INSKEEP: That's commentator Frank Deford with Jenni Lipa for the StoryCorps National Day of Listening project. You can do the same thing. Find out how at npr.org. Our conversations continue tomorrow with the president of the United States, George W. Bush. He sits down with his wife and sister to talk about life after the White House.
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