Stranger

A slam poem performed at the commencement ceremony for THINK Global School's first-ever graduating senior class on May 31, 2014 in Hiroshima, Japan.

Beginnings: Cuenca, Ecuador in December 2011 /Photo courtesy of THINK Global School

Beginnings: Cuenca, Ecuador in December 2011 /Photo courtesy of THINK Global School

Big cities frighten me. 

 

Crowds of people who pass each other by like the satellite and the moon in constant orbit,

like the ship captain who never meets the lighthouse keeper,

like the snowflake that melts before it touches the ground.

 

There are so many strangers in this world.

 

And somehow, in the midst of all the anonymity, 

the silent slumped over figures sitting side by side in the train,

somehow it was us.

 

We were the star-speckled collision, 

the ones to take a chance on a stranger’s vision.

 

Our history started with you.

It started in Stockholm, it started in Cuenca, it started in Buenos Aires.

 

It started with each one of us in an airplane,

caterpillars crawling in the trenches of our stomachs

slowly turning into ticklish butterflies.

 

It started with nerves. It started with Ninja.

It started with a card game of Bullshit and a lot of voice cracks.

It started with Liam’s guitar. Beny’s sneeze. Anat’s eyes. Charis’ songs.

It started with “Hey, do you know which one is Gijs de Jong?”

It started with Elmo and Barney. A Sprat boddle. A handshake. Babushka’s crepes. It started at the end of the Amazing Race.

It started at my mom’s hotel in Quito, an Australian boy at breakfast. “How? Shouldn’t that kid be in school by now?” 

It started with Dengue fever. Harry Styles on loud speaker. A crippling fear of spiders.

It started with a schmuck interrogating a sixteen-year old boy at the Houston Airport.

 

It started with lots of things, but mostly, it started with strangers.

And today, it ends with family.

 

It ends with more stories and memories than I can remember.

It ends with a feeling of fullness. An arsenal of photographs. Lumps in throats.

It ends with worn-out luggage tags and stamped-up passports. 

It ends with a couple more than twelve nations.

It ends with a little bit of sleep deprivation.

 

It ends happily, and with a sense of a beginning.

It ends with this: Think Global School Class of 2014, You are my brothers. You are my sisters. And it was beautiful - no, it was extraordinary - knowing you.

Everyone, together: Kyoto, Japan in February 2014 /Photo courtesy of THINK Global School.

Everyone, together: Kyoto, Japan in February 2014 /Photo courtesy of THINK Global School.