Plumber's Syndrome: a term coined by author William Deresiewicz. Otherwise known as Ivy retardation, or like The New York Times once put it: "when you can converse with people from other countries, in other languages, but can’t communicate with the plumber standing in your own house." It affects the many who attended elite universities in the States, but in the case of Peru, just the lucky few. Every year, Lima high schoolers are struck by this disease, one of the most recent victims being me.
As luck would have it, my phone got stolen over the weekend. Forgive my passive voice, but if I knew who took it, I wouldn't be writing this today. The tragedy took place on Saturday and thankfully my mom found a friend who could lend me her iPhone for a few weeks. On Sunday I had to go pick it up, and since both my parents and my brother are away, I had no one to take me. I usually don't take cabs. Whether it's my family or my driver, there is always somebody who can get me to where I need to be. Even if I ever do, I am always consumed by technology; completely oblivious to the presence of my surroundings.
Although it wasn't common for me, under the circumstances, I was forced to go on a taxi. The driver arrived at my house and gave me a call. He drove a red Toyota that must have been twice my age. I left my house and uneasily got into the cab only to become even more troubled after listening to the loud engine noises the car made at every turn. The man was in his mid-thirties, he wore a collared shirt and listened to Los Hermanos Yaipen. While usually I'd be immersed into the world of social media, with no phone, this was no longer a possibility. As the awful music and the unsettling motor sounds attempted to mask the awkward silence, I realized that I had nothing in common with this man.
It was a long drive. Probably about thirty to forty minutes in the car and I had no source of entertainment. I tried to ask him a question but found myself failingly searching for words to say. I am a twelveth-grade student at one of Peru's best schools, and somehow, I could not speak to my taxi driver. I had never felt so disconnected in my life. I usually find ease in delving into a conversation, but for some reason, it seemed impossible to relate to this person.
We must have spent about twenty minutes in the car before I asked him if he preferred cash or credit. It was a stupid question if anything, but it was a good start. After hearing his vague answer, I asked him his name and if he liked being a taxi driver and soon the conversation began. It wasn't easy getting over myself but after a while, I saw that this person--who now I know is named Luis--was actually kind of interesting. He was an aspiring entrepreneur who was planning to start his own taxi business with his brother.
Roosevelt is a great school. It offers students many opportunities to shape their learning. Although I love my high school, it does a terrible job at exposing students outside their bubble of eliteness. While I talked to Luis, I realized that we had more in common that I led myself to believe. He also had dreams and aspirations and a refreshing perspective on things. All of this made me think back to Corey's proposition for the Innovation Academy. Besides changing the way Roosevelt teaches, how about changing who they teach all together? By mixing people from different social statuses, students would be able to learn from people who might have varying points of view. This merging of socio-economic classes would broaden students perspectives and do a hell of a better job at, as Deresiewicz put it, shaping world citizens.
“The earth has music for those who listen.”