Posey Piper and her former student, Dinesh D’Souza.

Unless you are very up-to-date on the ins and outs of American politics, you may not have heard of Dinesh D’Souza, the conservative writer and film director. You also probably aren’t aware that this best-selling author graduated from Patagonia District High School in 1979. D’Souza was a Rotary exchange student from Bombay, India, where he had already graduated from a private Catholic high school. He was in Patagonia last month with a film crew because he wanted to include a conversation with Posey Piper—his PUHS English teacher—in his most recent film, America, which is due for release this summer.

D’Souza recalls his year in Patagonia with fondness. He says he flew directly to Tucson in 1978 and traveled straight on to Patagonia. During the school year he stayed with four families. He started his year living at the home of a local pastor. Then he moved on to stay with Bob Crosset, the postmaster, Robert Westman, the high school band director, and then with the Yakobian family in Sonoita, with whom he still stays in touch.

He loved literature and Posey remembers him as a fine writer and critical thinker. When it came time for D’Souza to apply to college, Byron Hackett, the school counselor, helped him through the application process. His SAT scores were so good that Hackett encouraged him to apply to Ivy League schools and also to the University of Indiana, Hackett’s alma mater. When acceptances began coming in, D’Souza recalls that Hackett steered him toward Indiana, and D’Souza was headed that way when he discovered that Ivy League schools probably would offer the best education and most advantages. His choice of Dartmouth College was to prove fateful.

In 1980 Ronald Reagan was running for president, and a number of his supporters at Dartmouth felt that their views had no place in the college’s progressive newspaper, so they started the Dartmouth Review, a journal that is still at the forefront of conservative thinking today. Back in 1980, the paper was controversial, opposing affirmative action and claiming that minorities were degrading the academic rigor of the college. D’Souza made his mark as a writer for the Dartmouth Review. His conservative credentials later led him to serve as a policy advisor to President Reagan.

Over the years, D’Souza has written 15 books and dozens of articles and has produced two films, Michael Moore Hates America and 2016: Obama’s America, which is an analysis of the President’s life and suggests that he has an underlying hostility toward America. The film is the highest grossing political documentary of all time. (Together with his new movie, that makes three films he’s made with “America” in the title.) D’Souza sees himself as the conservative’s answer to Michael Moore.

When he came to Patagonia from a well-to-do Catholic family in India, D’Souza says he was already conservative in his outlook, but he knew little of politics and had no experience of American culture. His first impressions of America were formed in this small town, and, according to those who knew him then, the Indian exchange student adapted fairly easily. He participated in plays, the newspaper, and the yearbook, and he even worked at the Steak Out. Not everyone will agree with his rather extreme political stances, but he’s made a name for himself in his adopted country. This is where the Americanization of Dinesh began.