The Big Ponder

Episode 9: In Friendship





Apr 12, 2021


THE BIG PONDER Episode 9: In Friendship


Inspired by a year of forced isolation, essayist Bilal Qureshi explores the history, landscape, and meaning of friendship across cultures. At the heart of his examination is the question: Who do we call a ‘friend’ and why?

Bilal speaks with friends, colleagues, and family around the world. From the United States, we hear from Anna Schmitz, Willa Obel, Jessica Lewis, and Beena Kamlani. Marc Ohrem-LeClef, Mena Hanna, Anjana Das, Ranty Islam, and Bilal’s co-producer Oliver Brod chime in from Germany. Bilal also talks to several ‘friend couples,’ including Anushay Hossain and Shereen Abdel-Nabi; Chelsea Crawford and Alex Tyson; Melissa Gray and Dawn Benedetto; David Gura and Creighton Irons; Kendall Rice and Krystal Hawke; and Marisa Katz and Jody Lambert. Last but not least, Bilal’s nephew Zayn Mufti offers his own definition of friendship.

Listen to this episode: Apple Music | Spotify | Download

Photo: © Marc Ohrem-Leclef


In cooperation with radio stations and independent producers in the US and Germany, the Goethe-Institut has created the transatlantic podcast THE BIG PONDER. We invite listeners to reflect on abstract ideas and phenomena through hyper-local stories. Each topic will be explored from a transatlantic perspective: do the US and Germany share the same values? What divides us? What unites us?   

In addition to sharing our passion for great storytelling, THE BIG PONDER hopes to further strengthen the transatlantic network of journalists and podcasters through our close collaboration with radio stations and partners on both sides of the pond. We are especially thankful for the support from our friends at the Bertelsmann Foundation, RBB Kultur, and the RIAS Berlin Kommission. 

New episodes are released every other week on this website and your favorite podcast apps. For more information, visit


Goethe-Institut Washington

The Bertelsmann Foundation

RBB Kultur

RIAS Berlin Kommission

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