As I entered the open doors of opportunity on my first day at a new school, faces I'd never seen greeted me - different faces from what I was used to. First, they all belonged to girls (something I was definitely not used to). Second, they were all one color, white. At first, it didn't phase me. I just thought, Hey, it's a different building, different teachers and a different schedule. There must be different people, too. But what I didn't grasp was how different these people really were.
I was born and raised in a city on the outskirts of Boston where more than 15 percent live below the state's poverty level and more than 51 percent are what the state calls "minorities." Even though I attended a small Catholic grade school in the city, the classes were a mix of Asian, Hispanic, African-American and Caucasian students. It didn't occur to me that some of my best friends were a different race, or that some of my first boyfriends were a different ethnicity.
When I left my city of diversity, I entered a suburban high school full of mostly upper-middle class girls from affluent towns. It was not until then I realized that not everyone had my childhood experiences. Not everyone was taught to speak Spanish by her best friend whose family came from Puerto Rico a few years before. Not everyone had danced to Kenyan music in traditional tribal attire. Not everyone had shared her lunch and school supplies with a friend whose parents were on welfare. Not everyone had learned that neither the color of one's skin nor one's social status can be seen when you love someone.
Though some say the students at my school have grown up with more privileges and a better education than...