Every week, The Friendship Files features a conversation between The Atlantic’s Julie Beck and two or more friends, exploring the history and significance of their relationship.
This week she talks with a group of college students who have been friends with their high-school history teacher since they started eating lunch in his classroom sophomore year, discussing politics and sharing stories from their lives.They discuss how the students went from being afraid of their teacher to being close friends, how they've all kept in touch since the students left for college, and how their intergenerational, intercultural friendship has given them new perspectives.
Mike Oliveira, a.k.a. "Mr. O," 42, a history teacher at Interlake High School, in Bellevue, Washington
Jasmine Sun, 19, a sophomore at Stanford University, major undeclared
Jessica Dai, 19, a sophomore at Brown University, studying computer science
Cayla Lee, 20, a sophomore at Harvard University, studying social studies and math
Christina Li, 20, a sophomore at Carnegie Mellon, studying finance and decision science
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Julie Beck: For the students: How long have you all been friends, and how did you meet?
Jasmine Sun: Our high school has a competitive debate team, and all four of us joined as freshmen. We were the only four people in our year who stuck it out through the whole year. And when you're stuck with the same three other people for hours and hours on end, you have to like each other, or else you would quit.