By Ruth Ogechi Udeh, Summer Times Staff Writer

Life is truly full of surprises. Imagine being in a room your father was in when he attended school 21 years ago. This seems to be the case of Hisham Alireza. Abbot room 205 is a room shared by Hisham and his father 21 years apart. Imagine that! Hisham Alireza, 14, from Saudi Arabia in Access Exeter is in the room his father, Badr Alireza, was in when he was a regular student at Exeter in 1998. Would we call this coincidence or fate?

“I do believe in coincidence,” Hisham said. “And I also believe in fate. I believe in both coincidence and fate because I believe some things are meant to be and some things can just happen just like that.” 

When Hisham was asked how he found out, he had an interesting story to tell.

“Originally, I was just face timing my dad,” he said. “I told him I am in the same dorm as him and he was surprised by that already. And he asked me what room are you in? I told him 205 but he didn’t remember the room number. So, I just showed him a video of my room. And he said that looks a lot like my room. So, I went outside, went back in, showed him and we were both astonished that it was the same exact room. I was amazed when I discovered I am in the same room my father used to be in.”

His father was elated to learn that his son is in the room he used to be in. This gave him so many reasons to be proud of his son.

“My father was really happy when he heard the news,” Hisham said. “He was happy to see that I was following his footsteps. He was happy to see me experience what he experienced at the time.”

This event has greatly improved the relationship between father and son, making him think of his parents quite often.

“This experience has made me feel really connected to my father,” he said. “The school has developed so much, but it is still the same. Some of the most amazing things have been just walking around and seeing the area and just thinking that my parents used to walk here. Seeing the area, thinking about how my parents would always play here and do things and study here.”

But that wasn’t the end of the coincidences. Surprisingly, his mother, Azza El Farouki, attended PEA alongside his father.

“I felt very connected to both my parents,” said Hisham. “My dad told me that he used to look outside the window and he could see my mother’s room. My mother was in Merrill. It is the middle window and my dad’s room was by the side so it was easy to see. I walked down the library and my mum told me that she used to go to the library once a week to study. I study as well and I feel like I share that experience with her.”

Seems like the school nurtured their relationship. The school acted as a unifying force. Who knew Phillips Exeter Academy has the power to strengthen lover’s relationship?

“This place really brought my parents together,” he said. “They were very connected. They were very close friends and they got along very well. They used to play this game where they would switch the light on and off to communicate, kind of. They didn’t really know each other before. They had met before but they didn’t really know each other that well. The school brought them together.”

It gets better. Some other family members of the Alireza family also attended PEA. His aunt, Lema, and uncle, Noah Alireza, were also students here before they got married. Another of his aunt, Teen Alireza, a friend of his father and some cousins were also students at PEA.

Phillips Exeter Academy seems to hold lots of memories for the Alireza family.