Thursday, June 14, 2007

Faces of excellence

The day before I left for Ireland, the Boston Globe ran their annual page of photographs of the year's valedictorians of Boston's 41 public high schools. As usual, it was an eye-opener.

Two-thirds of the top students are women.

Twenty-one are foreign born, including Haiti, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, China, and Uganda. Vietnam gave us four valedictorians. Albania also contributed four, which must qualify that little country as the smartest place on Earth.

As best I could judge by names and faces, there are nine East Asians, ten Blacks, and twelve Hispanics. There appears to be only one American-born white -- and this in Boston!

I don't know about you, but all of this makes me very proud to be an American, at a time when we have a lot not to be proud of. I look at these 41 faces smiling out from the page and the optimist in me sees a world of the future, where people of all races and places live together and strive for excellence.

What does this have to do with science? Nothing, really. But since science is the one human activity that is universal across cultures and ethnicities, companionable diversity and science can only prosper together.