The Kuwait University library pulsed with the activity of students. Some seated around long tables took notes as they read with their textbooks scattered around them. Others ambled among the stacks, matching titles with information on index cards. One student slumped back in his chair, yawned, and rubbed his eyes, while another stared mindlessly at the written materials before her. Still others completed the check-out process and left for the evening, volumes in hand.

I made my way to the reception area where I stood behind a student asking the Kuwaiti woman behind the desk where she could locate books on linear algebra. Next to her sat a man who explained the library policy on overdue books to a student. The woman behind the desk finished her business with the student and glanced up at me, hardly pausing to acknowledge my presence and jotting something in a note book with great attention. I sensed that she was reluctant to speak with me. The man looked at me slowly and addressed me politely, almost softly. "May I help you?"

"Yes, sir. I am here to apply for the position posted on the announcement board inside the front door of the library."

"Hmm, what position is that?"

"The part-time job here in the library." I took care not to use the word "student" in my reply, for fear he might question my status as a student or ask to see some identification. The way I was dressed in my work-clothes, I could have passed for many things, but a student wasn't one ...

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