Adventures on the CalTrain: a memoir


Amy Sun, Staff writer

While Enrique and Alekhya had an in-depth conversation about school, Sophia and Reshef showed off their Polaroid photos to Helen and Nidhi, who in turn showed them her mural photos from the city. Everyone was chatting happily with one another, oblivious of the time.

How did three complete strangers and four high schoolers start talking?

As our group boarded the Caltrain after a long day of reporting in the city, little did we know of the story waiting for us in the train.

The four of us had sat down, exhausted, and I decided to start playing music in my headphones. I had seen a YouTuber do gigs where he sang very embarrassingly in public with headphones on. It was one of my dreams to do that, so I thought, why not on the train, while everyone is tired with nothing to do?

With my super duper American flag headband and my flag cape, I started singing the most patriotic song I could think of: All Star by Smash Mouth.

Meanwhile, Alekhya still had her reporting microphone in hand, and gave it to me to sing into while she recorded my embarrassing performance.

With my headphones on and jamming it out, I could not hear a thing. A minute into my performance, I could see Alekhya frantically pointing behind me.

The guy behind me was singing along! I turned around to see him shuffling through a giant deck of Polaroid pictures with a girl we assumed to be his girlfriend.

Nidhi immediately gained interest and started asking them about their pictures. Then another guy across the aisle started asking us if we were high schoolers. Grinning toothily, we nodded our heads. After a few minutes, we decided to interview them. Enrique, Reshef, and Sophia all agreed happily.

Where are you from?

Enrique: “I’m originally from Costa Rica, and I moved to America on July 4th, 2009, so this is my ninth year living in America. What I learned is that it doesn’t matter where you’re from, this country embraces the uniqueness of you.You find so many different people, and that’s a thing [in America] and you can find a community of people like you no matter where you are. ”

Reshef: “I actually moved to America the same year as [Enrique], March 13th, 2009. I’ve lived all over the place in the US, but I guess to me what [being American] means that wherever you go in America, there’s always more to find and more to explore. There’s always more opportunities.”

What do you think of the Second Amendment?

Sophia: “The reason that [gun control] is a big topic right now is because of the school shootings. And I’ve lived in Indiana for the past six years, and everyone [there] loves having guns. Everyone’s like pro guns, and honestly, we need more limitations on who can buy guns. In other countries, you have to take, like, three tests in order to be able to buy a gun, and I think we should implement that and actually have them prove that they are responsible enough to have a gun. And in terms of shootings, I think there’s an even bigger stance of mental health in general in this country. Guns are one thing and we need to limit them, but we also need to focus on mental health in this country and actually prevent people from wanting to shoot up kids in the first place.”

What ties American people together during turbulent times?

Reshef: “There’s a lot of very good people here, I think it’s very common in America to help each other. You know, like when you’re sitting on the train and the people behind you are singing, just start singing with them. Depending on where you go, people are very friendly and open to each other.”
Sophia: “I would say open mindedness [ties people together during turbulent times].Someone could have a complete opinion of you, especially politically. And if you sit down with them and actually talk through with them, people will often times not disagree on things that they previously thought they disagreed on, just because they don’t understand the other person’s point of view. And so if people actually sit down and have a dialogue about their opinions, then we would be able to unite more. Just loving your neighbor, acknowledging that the other person’s a person, that’s what can unite us.”