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Dear friends,

I hope that all of us – including my students – will take up this challenge.  It’s not a formal assignment, and it won’t be graded (at least, not by me).  Your “grade” will be reflected in your quality of life, relationships, and sense of self.

I want all of us to make a concerted effort this year to befriend someone different from ourselves.


If you’re a liberal, make friends with someone whose beliefs are conservative.  If you’re religious, befriend someone who questions, or disbelieves, the existence of God.  If you are American, make a new friend who grew up in another land.

I’m not here to tell you that we’re more alike than we are different.  Sometimes our differences are vast, and we should honor them.  But we need to talk to one another, and more importantly, to really listen.  To see each other as companions on the journey, wherever we started from, wherever our ultimate destination.

Challenge yourself to find that new friend, and to open your mind.  That’s our assignment, and I hope we all earn the highest marks.