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

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

A dozen excited eighth-graders hoisted their hands into the air and belted out their fantasies with unbridled confidence: Flying! Invisibility! Immortality!

Anyone else?

I barely got my hand up to eke out my deepest wish: “To be heard.”

Born in India but raised in Texas, I sometimes felt out of place or alone. Sharp pangs of frustration arose when I had important things to say and nobody to lend an ear. On the rare occasion that I found a willing listener, nerves got the best of me. I could only articulate a shadow of my thought.

One debate career and a couple of Harvard degrees later, I have found my voice. I now take my seat at the table among the privileged few who have both powerful podiums and eager audiences.

Yet, I promise never to take my privilege for granted, never to forget that eighth-grader who needed to be heard. As life unfolds, I will always seek to understand others’ perspectives and to share my podium with the unheard.

— Bhargav Srinivasan