When I was a teenager, I used to hate taking the bus to my high school. I stood at the bottom of our gravel road and cursed living in the country, I rode in the back of the bus with my Walkman headphones on (because yes, it was that long ago) and wished I had a car or that the route didn't wind through quite so many neighborhoods. It was such a drag, man.
One of the more useful side effects of aging is recognizing just what a privileged, whiny asshole you used to be -- and I had that realization for about the millionth time when I read about 14-year-old Santiago Munoz’s two-bus, two-subway trip to his Bronx high school. His commute is more than five hours each day ... and you won't believe what he says about it.
Every day Munoz travels from a housing project in Far Rockaway, Queens to the tip of Manhattan, then up near the top of the Bronx to get to the Bronx High School of Science. He wakes up at 5 a.m. each school day in order to leave the six-room apartment he shares with his dad, aunt, grandmother, two siblings, and cousin just before 6.
He then takes two buses to the Rockaway Boulevard A-train station, then takes two trains before walking 10 more minutes to his school.
Munoz, who would like to attend MIT someday, says of his daily travels:
The trip I do every day to get to school everyone should be willing to do to get a good education.
The 14-year-old was recently included in a photography exhibit showing the hardships some children face getting to school, and he says that compared to the other children featured, his situation isn't so bad.
Even though it takes me longer, their trips are harder. I think I’m privileged to take a train compared to a donkey. I’d prefer a long ride and a safer trip than going one hour through a gang-filled or war-torn country.
What an amazing kid. I keep thinking of myself at 14 years old, and how a single bus ride that took maybe 20 minutes felt like the world's biggest pain in the ass. I can't even begin to imagine the motivation and drive he has, and the fact that he's willing to endure so much for the privilege of attending the school of his dreams (he wants to be a physician) shows how far Santiago Munoz is going to go in life.
Can you imagine having had this sort of commute when you were in high school?
Image via David23/Flickr