Talking About Money with Strangers

There are lots of examples of disparity in the world, but the one that is most obvious to me is the stark contrast between the rich and the poor, especially near my school. Germantown Friends School is located in Germantown, where the average household makes less than the yearly tuition to go to GFS. I really started to understand this extreme separation one afternoon while I was waiting to get on the bus. I was at the bus stop blocks away from my school, when a group of three girls walked across the street. I was minding my own business when I heard the tallest one say, “Hey you! How are you doing?”

I was a little bit surprised, but not wanting to be rude, I responded with a timid, “I’m good, how are you?” Tall girl responded, “Yeah, I’m good,” and she proceeded to ask me questions. At one point they asked me where I went to school. I pointed across the street to the Wade Science Center, a big building with solar panels and modern architecture. This immediately triggered a “wow” from the girl with a grey sweatshirt. She asked me, “Are you rich?”

This caught me by surprise. I didn’t really know what to say. My parents always told me that it isn’t right to talk about money, and that you don’t want to sound like a snob.  I said, “Yeah. I mean I go to a nice school, so…” I asked them where they went to school, and she said, “We go to this sh*tty public school, we live in Germantown.”

Suddenly, I felt ashamed and embarrassed for how much I have. I live in a huge house with a back yard. I attend private school and will head to college. All because of the money that was earned before I was born. I could slack off, be a horrible student, but my family’s money, and my privilege would help me. But one of the hardest working kids in a different situation could be forced to drop out of high school to get a job. Or not be able to afford college. Some people are born into rich families, others are born into poor ones.

It’s easy for me to complain when my computer is slow, or when I have to wake up early on Monday to go to school, but it’s important to realize what I have. I feel strongly that everyone should have the same opportunities, but I’m doing nothing to fix that. I think to myself, “You better not squander the opportunities you were born with.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s