How We Met
August 3, 2017
Stella and Zehra, our teen interns for the summer, recount the story of how they met. Be sure to check back over the next six weeks for future installments.
Stella: We first met in English class, freshman year.
Zehra: I heard her say that her father was from England, and I connected with her because I lived in England when I was younger for 3 ½ years, due to my father being in the Air Force.
Stella: Meanwhile, I had already identified Zehra as a potential friend because of her Muslim name. Being Jewish in a Catholic school and not knowing what to expect, I was reassured by the fact that there may be other minorities here.
Zehra: By freshman year, I had already been attending Catholic school for eight years and was used to the mannerisms and behavior. Nonetheless, as a minority, I still felt as if there were parts of my life that my friends could not understand.
Stella: While Zehra was used to this environment, I was ambivalent about being different. As a minority within a minority, I was nervous about how people were going to treat and view me.
Zehra: With my past experiences, I was not anxious about the treatment from other people. I just wanted to know someone who understood and empathized with being the only person of a certain heritage.
Stella: And so we scoped each other out.
Zehra: After school, I walked up to Stella in the cafeteria and introduced myself. I was about to speak of how I lived in England, when Stella asked how I managed in a Catholic school.
Stella: We immediately bonded over our mutual diversity, and “yukked it up,” in the words of our history teacher, over the similarities between our families and cultural backgrounds.
Zehra: We like to joke that our friendship will heal the wound between Israel and Palestine, one step at a time. However, the irony in that is that we both are not the most religious individuals in our respective faiths. And by most, we mean very little.
Stella: But more than just yukking it up, we both actively try to participate in groups that would make us feel included–namely the Interfaith Unity Forum.
Zehra: When the Forum was announced, Stella and I immediately knew that we were attending. Additionally, when the founding students graduated, we took over as the club leaders.
Stella: This was our first step to feeling included and represented, and that we could bring something to the school community.
Zehra: Being the only Jew and Muslim at our school, we were at the mercy of everyone’s questions and curiosity, and on more than one occasion, we did not know the answer. However, we both enjoy creating a better understanding and being a bridge between other faiths for fellow students.