“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

“Bahia! Let’s climb this tree together!” Mehdi shouted from the other side of the garden. We raced to climb the tree as fast as possible. “Nasty kids! Stop it! It is forbidden!” As always, the gardener was running behind us. Nasty kids – and proud of it. As an only child with absent parents, I used to spend my days playing with children in the street of Casablanca. Nobody could judge us. There was no social or racial divide. We were just equal, genuine kids. But one day, the lottery of life separated us. I went to school, while Mehdi stayed on the street. Flash forward, and I’m at Harvard, with a deep pinch in my heart.

I have had that pinch since I left Mehdi in the street twenty years ago, and it will not go away until I bring Mehdi, all the Mehdis, to school. I want to provide all children, regardless of their background, with the same opportunities that life blessed me with. My purpose is to bridge the gap that separated Mehdi and me, breaking down social and cultural frontiers through education.

So that, one day you will see signed here: “Mehdi X, Casablanca, MBA 20XX”.

— Bahia El Oddi