Humans of Harker: Making change and making friends

Mir Bahri combines his interests of politics, programming and sports


Tiffany Chang

“The thing I enjoy most about basketball is meeting new people from different schools in the Bay Area because a lot of different people from different schools come to the park. People I otherwise wouldn’t have had the chance to meet play basketball,” Mir Bahri (12) said.

Politics, programming and basketball are just a few of Mir Bahri’s (12) many and varied interests. He finds himself drawn to politics for its potential to make a positive social impact, while programming captivates him for its practical, real-life applications. And when he’s not lost in the realm of code, you can find him on the basketball court, relishing the team dynamic. Through each of his interests, Mir takes pride in his ability to spread joy, make others smile and forge new connections.

Mir’s early exposure to politics came from his mother and sister, who were both involved in activism. Then, after attending a boys and girls club event with his family in the lower school, Mir realized how different his sheltered Harker environment was from the realities of many people in the Bay Area.

In an internship with California state senator Josh Becker, Mir recognized the lack of technological proficiency in political environments, as the interns used cumbersome and outdated databases. Taking initiative, he created a program that streamlined the process of inputting constituent data.

“The biggest thing I learned is the power of taking initiative because there are ideas all around me,” Mir said. “What distinguishes someone who is complacent in the status quo from someone who actually makes change is having a thought and taking initiative on it to make something happen for the broader good.”

Mir’s academic classes gave him the confidence to tackle complex problems outside of a classroom setting. Applying skills he learned in school, he embarked on his first independent computer science project, in which he challenged himself to create the best possible code without the structure and deadlines of a formal class environment.

“For programming, at least, I feel like it’s more results oriented,” Mir said. “The applications of computer science are cool to think about, whether it’s creating change in politics or just making a really cool machine.”

Upper school English department chair Dr. Pauline Paskali, who taught Mir in his junior year, observed his passion for learning and engaging with his peers. During class, she noted how Mir went out of his way to make sure everyone in the classroom felt included in discussions, fostering a sense of community. 

“[Mir] sits down in the classroom, and he’s ready to participate: book open, hand raised, ready to engage in a conversation with every single member of the classroom,” Dr. Paskali said. “He’s someone who likes to draw his peers into the conversation too, so he would often ask a question of me, but also of his peers to try to draw them into the conversation.”

In basketball as well, Mir strives to cultivate a sense of community. Every weekend, he finds solace in playing pickup games with his friends, which offer an escape from the rigors of his academic life.

“The thing I enjoy most about basketball is meeting new people from different schools in the Bay Area because a lot of different people from different schools come to the park,” Mir said. “People I otherwise wouldn’t have had the chance to meet play basketball.”

Within school, Mir especially looks forward to the lunch period, where he can enjoy the company of his friends. With his group of friends crammed together on a table for lunch, Mir loves to debate over politics and crack jokes. 

“[Being around friends] makes me really happy — not just, as I talked about, meeting new people, but being around the friends that I’ve made through high school,” Mir said. “Something that really defines me is how much I enjoy and appreciate being around people.”

Close friend Benjamin Tian (12), who initially met Mir in advisory in sixth grade, recalls Mir’s infectious energy and awkward but enthusiastic dancing, which brought a sense of levity to the group. Now, the pair dedicates their time after school to working together on homework.

“I see [Mir] as a lot more hardworking,” Benjamin said. “He is very academically driven. I go to the library with him a lot, so I see him work there. It’s nice to work with a partner.”

After teaching Mir during his junior year, upper school biology teacher Dr. Matthew Harley was impressed by Mir’s mature and curious approach to class. Beyond their academic interactions, Dr. Harley also discovered the joy in their dynamic relationship, built on respect and humor. 

“What strikes me the most about Mir is how easy it is for him to take jokes at his expense,” Dr. Harley said. “He loves not just giving, but taking, the give and take of that kind of humor. He enjoyed me singling him out in class as the butt of jokes.”

With his many interests and focuses between politics, programming and basketball, Mir ultimately hopes to create change in his community. Above all, he values the friendships that arise from those interests. 

“The best way I can say it is that I just want the people around me to be happy and smiling,” Mir said. “I think that’s what makes high school worth it — the best form of happiness comes from helping others.”