Two students. Two conversations. One Starbucks. One hour apart.
Two bright, articulate high school seniors confident in their writing, their faith and their views. He, the oldest of three brothers. She the second of 6 sisters. Both come from homes steeped in tradition, backgrounds one could call sheltered. His family has been American a while, her parents are immigrants. Both write for the school paper and debate ideas with classmates. He writes a sports blog. She interviews her grandmother using technology. He speaks a language of sports and religion. She speaks a language of religion and tradition breaking forth.
He spends free hours at Barnes & Noble, devouring books, classic and new. She enters the waters of activism, energized by interfaith communal protest. He owns his voice and tries on the writing voice of others. She has just found her voice and tries on the role of public speaker accepting invitations.
This afternoon I sat with both of these students, one then the other. My role? Alumni interviewer for my university. They came to the coffee shop near my office, a very white, suburban location. Either could be quickly categorized by appearance. He wears a kippah, she a hijab. Neither fits a definition or expectation presumable by appearance.
We met so they could tell me about themselves and why they want to study there, both eager for the education, the opportunity. Both exude curiosity and an exuberance that says “I can do what I want in the world.”
Two bright, articulate high school seniors confident in their writing, their faith and their views. Two students. Two conversations. Worlds apart. Yet as close as one hour apart.