Fabian Bedne demonstrates how his life of service has come full circle. As a community leader, he gives credit to his parents and his upbringing in Argentina, which he left after it became a dictatorship. In this Squeeze the Day podcast, he shares about becoming a U.S. citizen and an elected official including his love for officiating wedding ceremonies. Bedne now works in the Nashville Mayor’s Office to serve the community and uplift the voices of others, especially the immigrant population because he knows firsthand the challenges they face.
Let’s take a deeper dive to understand why Bedne has used his skills to become a positive influence on others and a valued voice to represent our growing and diverse community.
Q. Tell us about your roots.
I’m a mix of many things. On my dad’s side, we were from the Ukraine. On my mother’s side, we were from Poland. We’re Jewish. We’ve been in Argentina for 100 years, so we are also Hispanic, ethnically speaking. So we are mixed baggage. But if I had to say where I’m from, I’ll say my neighborhood in Buenos Aires, it’s called Balvanera, which is the place I grew up.
Q. You lived under a military dictatorship (in Argentina) and eventually came to the U.S. What was the driving force for that new beginning?
So the dictatorship, by design … they were trying to make people powerless. They wanted to dominate and control and that was something that was really hard for me.
Bedne goes on to talk about the disenfranchisement during the dictatorship, the disappearance of his brother and the chaos that followed. A work sabbatical led him to the U.S. to work on architecture, which is his training, and he ended up staying in the United States. His story details chilling facts from his past and uplifting stories about how he has built his home in Nashville.
Q. What brought you to Nashville? At the time you moved here I bet Nashville was a very different place.
It was a very different place. My wife’s father developed Alzheimer’s and her sister lived in Chattanooga, so we decided to come here for a little bit, to help and share in taking care of my father-in-law, Ernie. And he stayed with us for a while, and I was very happy that we were able to take care of him. But when he passed away, we just decided to stay. It had become our home. Our daughter was born here, and we just found a community that we could connect with. And then as I was finding this community, I also decided to connect with other Hispanics and immigrants in the city, because as I was feeling more settled in my new home, I also felt that I wanted to help other immigrants and Latinos to help them be successful. When I came here, it was kind of tough on me, as it is for every immigrant. So many changes. And, I wanted to help other immigrants have it easier and help them be successful.
Bedne continues to share an interesting story about getting his visa and later becoming a U.S. citizen including how a check that was short by $25 held up the process for more than a year. In addition, he speaks about cracks in the immigration process and how it could be better. He also talks about community service, his faith, and serving the community as an elected official. The tipping point may have been when people were challenging him by saying: “You can never win. You’re an immigrant, so, you’ll never get elected.”
Q. What made you initially want to run for office?
I got here and I was frustrated because my neighbors were complaining about feeling that their council member wasn’t listening. And they were feeling disenfranchised. And I remember thinking, “I came all the way here, half a planet away, to try to get away from an environment where people don’t matter, and this shouldn’t happen in America. This is not what this country is about.”
In this podcast, Bedne serves as a wholesome voice sharing the perspective of an immigrant who gets great joy from helping others. He is an encourager, an advocate, a mentor, and a model for others who are eager to impact change. Don’t miss this powerful interview about Squeezing the Day and giving back to improve the world around us.