Students from two vastly different schools in New York’s South Bronx — a low-income public school and prestigious private school — are learning to step into each other’s shoes with campus visits and by role-playing each other’s life experiences.

Joel Lovell’s touching New York Times Magazine article features student voices sharing stories on everything from growing up in poverty to understand the profound privileges of the upper class. For example:

Ellis: “When I meet with the students from University Heights, the obvious differences in our situations do play a factor in the conversation. But then a funny thing happens: You start to find out things you have in common. I talked with one student, and we immediately went to the topic of baseball. We had very similar experiences, even though some of our other experiences were nothing alike. We get much more out of realizing our similarities.”

Nagib “My mom works really hard for a little bit of money. I used to be ashamed to admit this, but now I embrace it. Being poor is the biggest motivation for me because I come from the bottom, and my goal is to reach the top. People say that success is not determined by income, and I mostly agree, but I want my success to be determined by income. I want to be able to support my family. Also, most of the things that I worry about now are money-related, and I don’t want my children to have to worry like my siblings and I did.”

Read the full story below.

The Tale of Two Schools

Fieldston and University Heights are in the same borough but worlds apart. How much understanding between their students can a well-told story bring? University Heights High School is on St. Anns Avenue in the South Bronx, which is part of the poorest congressional district in America, according to the Census Bureau.


Katrina Schwartz

Katrina Schwartz is a journalist based in San Francisco. She's worked at KPCC public radio in LA and has reported on air and online for KQED since 2010. She's a staff writer for KQED's education blog MindShift.

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