MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT MY POSTAL CODE





Ari Feuer, JDS '18



Attending an affluent private school while coming from a different socio-economic background than other students.





“Next stop, Brookland-Catholic University of America,” the voice overhead drones in a barely audible, mostly static, utterly disinterested manner. I do not pick up my head. The doors open, they close, the train keeps moving. As with every one of the hundreds of times that I have ridden through what was a couple years ago the most crime-ridden station in the Metro system, nothing happens.

I have at least two friends, both of whom are seniors in high school and live within a 15 minute drive from my house, both of whom until last year were not allowed in Silver Spring, where I live, without their parents. When I say that I shop at Wheaton Mall, a lot of the Bethesda-Potomac-Chevy Chase crowd shudders. “Isn’t there crime there? That’s not safe.” These same friends are terrified of the Metro, and never ride their own city’s popular form of public transportation. Even the ones who do ride the Metro never go past Union Station. Brentwood is as foreign to them as Spain.


While in no real world situation am I suffering, and I credit my wonderful parents and a lot of luck for an incredibly fortunate life, Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School (JDS) is not the real world. I live in a townhouse, which many of my friends have thought is an apartment (it’s not). I live in a neighborhood that is not exclusively white and is 75 percent Jewish, but multicultural and religiously diverse. Many of my friends live in McLean, Bethesda, or Potomac in houses bigger than four of mine and with cars of their own that vastly out price anything I hope to buy. In JDS, I am on the lower end of the totem pole.


"SOMETIMES I TRY TO HANG OUT WITH FRIENDS IN SILVER SPRING, ONLY TO BE REJECTED BECAUSE FAMILIES DID NOT WANT THEIR KIDS TO HANG OUT IN SOME SORT OF SKETCHY (PRETTY SURE THIS MEANT “BLACK”) COMMUNITY.​"


I have never been a partier and certainly do not have the house to host. I am usually happier to go down to D.C. and just walk around by myself, taking in the fresh air and enjoying the greatest city in the world instead of going to someone’s house for a party. Sometimes I try to hang out with friends in Silver Spring, only to be rejected because families did not want their kids to hang out in some sort of sketchy (pretty sure this meant “black”) community. Even after I nicely reminded my friends that the weirdest local crime in my lifetime happened in Lululemon, the poster child for a rich, white store, I was still invited to hang out in Bethesda. But while my friends’ mothers or nannies, who stayed at home while their traveling parents visited the globe, could drive them, my parents could not. They both have great jobs but they have binding jobs, which for many years was a foreign concept to a lot of my friends. In a school with so many people who practice law or medicine, and can set their own hours, or consultants who can choose when they want to consult, a job with normal hours and a consistent, sometimes immutable schedule, is rare. So instead of taking a Metro ride to Bethesda and back, an hour and a half total, I stayed home. Only now that I can drive one of my family’s cars have I really begun to be social (but still not in Silver Spring).


I am incredibly grateful for my upbringing, as it has given me the opportunity to discover a new perspective in a comfortable way. Sometimes, though less now than in prior years, these values make me an outsider in many JDS social circles. My friends just do not understand where I’m coming from when I try to be more open about diversity and situations different from mine. I’ve tried. Only a lot of life experience has helped some people I know come into their own and escape the bubble of their neighborhoods and families. So I call on people who have only been to a private school and only around people who, even of other races and cultures, are overall like them, to try new places. Go to places that are unfamiliar or even “scary.” Put yourself in situations that will give you exposure to others. Pop the bubble.