Michael’s mother, who hailed from Greece and embraced Catholicism on marrying his father, instilled in her family the value of education above all else.
Michael Nimier says his life started age 16. After the sudden death of his father, his mother, a devout Catholic, left alone with five young children, sought the advice of a certain Monseigneur Josemaria Escriva in the Vatican. Through a series of letters between the priest and the his mother, Michael was awarded a borsa di studio (scholarship) by the Opus Dei1 to study Pharmacy at the Universita’ di Roma- Italy. Michael travelled to Italy where he remained for four years and says that his experience in Rome was the “most formative and educative years” of his youth.
Saints & Sinners
In Rome at the Residenza Universitaria Internazionale RUI (the Opus Dei students’ residence at the time) Nimier was fortunate to meet and have several stimulating conversations with Monseigneur Josemaria-Escriva who, unbeknown to Michael until then, was the founder of the Opus Dei the organisation that awarded him the scholarship. Monseigneur Josemaria-Escriva. later became Saint Josemaria-Escriva when he was canonised by Pope John Paul II2
La Dolce Vita
Michael struggled within the religious constrictions of the Opus Dei, and by the end of his first year at the Residenza he was asked to leave. He believes that in the many discussions he has had with the Monseigneur it became apparent that Michael’s questioning of all aspects of Christianity and particularly the Roman Catholic church did not bode well for his prospects with the organisation. Holders of OPUS DEI scholarships were viewed as budding future members of the organization who would one day return to their countries of origin and “show the way of Christ” as described in his iconic book il Camino-The Way. This “cultural reawakening” as Michael refers to it had a liberating effect on him which ultimately lead him to abandon his childhood religion and all religious dogma and embrace life-long atheism remaining cognisant of his Judaeo Christian heritage.
Michael took the opportunity of a new start away from the Opus Dei to change his course of study at the university from pharmacy to his real passion, political science. He supported himself for the next three years with very little financial assistance, by doing any part-time work he could find.
Love Conquers All
In his fourth year in Rome, he met a young English woman, working at the FAO and when she asked him to accompany her on a two-week holiday in the UK, he jumped at the opportunity of exploring a new country. As fate would have it neither of them returned to Rome “leaving all my worldly goods at the pensione where I used to live in Piazza dell’Esedra ” he states.
SOAS-UNIVERSITY OF LONDON
PhD Graduation Ceremony
In the UK Michael’s prime concern was to complete his undergraduate studies which he did successfully supporting himself through whatever menial jobs came his way.
He then went on to pursue postgraduate studies at SOAS3, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London where he was awarded an MA in Area Studies (Middle East), and a PhD in Politics. His doctoral adviser was the late Prof P J Vatikiotis
It’s A Small World
Upon graduation, he was hired by McKinsey and co, the Management Consultants as an Associate Research analyst where he participated in projects in Saudi Arabia including the re-organization of the Ministry of Rural and Municipal Affairs.
On leaving McKinsey, Michael worked as an independent consultant in international education specializing in the Middle East. He later helped setting up E-Learning International in Los Angeles and subsequently became director of its affiliate AUOL online.
Dr Nimier has been involved in international education as a teacher, administrator, writer (and more recently blogger) for many years. He has had numerous articles published in journals and newspapers around the world5. He has lived and worked extensively in the Middle East and is a fluent Arabic speaker.
United States Of Europe
Having spent most of his life in Europe, in France, Italy and the UK, Michael considers himself an ardent European who believes that the answer to Britain’s regrettable Brexit is to strengthen the institutions of the EU eventually leading to the establishment of a United States of Europe. In his opinion , this is paramount for the security of Europe and the world and for the establishment of a powerful economic and political continent in this fast changing globalized world .He passionately believes that the days of the nation state are over.