Before I begin, I want to let Amir’s family know that I think about him everyday here at Stanford. At least once every other day I pass another student and think for a moment that it’s him. I realize that you have suffered two losses in the last 12 months – Amir and his father. Having gone through a similar situation several years ago, I know that words don’t do anything. Faith is what matters.
That being said, I thought I would share my exchanges with Amir, which were unfortunately very limited. I first met him last September when I went to the orientation party for new students. I was riddled with anxiety, and so I went straight for a beer and then to the opening in the back of the room that led out onto a patio. I didn’t want to stand there by myself, so I nervously introduced myself to the guy next to me who seemed to be quite comfortable in the situation. The smalltalk was forced, and I was just thankful that he kept it going. Amir later told me that he didn’t know anyone either and that I was his first conversation. He must have had a better poker face than I did.
We exchanged e-mails, and he later told me that he needed a ride to Target. A foreign student came with us, but as Amir sat up front with me, he did most of the talking, which was really asking questions about my interests. As many others have said on this website, he struck me as very smart, and I was a bit reluctant to engage in deep conversation with him out of fear that I wouldn’t be able to hold my own. But he sensed my insecurity and made me feel more comfortable with sharing.
On our way back, I told him that I’m working on a peace plan for Cyprus that uses a paradigm not yet considered by Kofi Annan and others in the international community.
I felt very vulnerable when I shared this idea with Amir because for me, Cyprus (and its divided capital, Nicosia) is simply a 30-year proving ground for something that I envision working eventually in Jerusalem. There would be certain accommodations that both parties (Jewish and Palestinian) would have to make, and Amir was the first Jewish person with whom I shared my idea. I wasn’t sure how he was going to react emotionally.
It turned out that he treated me to one of his beers, and we stood out in the Rains parking lot for close to an hour. He asked probing questions and generally made me feel more comfortable with describing it. I think I was too wrapped up in my own thoughts to learn more about his PhD LDTS program. Hearing about tank simulators was too complex for me!
We had decided that we would get together for a beer or frisbee, but unfortunately time got the best of us. I only saw him in passing after that, but he was always quick with my name and a smile. Who knows if my Cyprus (and, modestly, Jerusalem) idea will gain a wider audience, but I’ll be going to Singapore in June to present it at a cooperative learning conference and plan to share it eventually with those who specialize in that island’s affairs. I’ll certainly be thinking of Amir on a usual basis, just like I do with my best friend in 2nd grade who died in a car accident.
Since it was Amir and not me, I’m going to put a lot of energy into this pursuit. He would likely to do the same if our roles were reversed. Watch over us, Amir; we need your guidance as we follow our responsibilities, loves, and dreams…Peace be to all of you.
– Mills Chapman