Go Fish The Uncommons managers have “caught on.” Its Fishing for Feedback system has changed; what started as a seemingly silly alliteration and a one-way suggestion box has morphed into a meaningful dialogue. Student input is heard; suggestions are responded to. Dialogue has found its voice in the form of a mystical red pen. Call it trivial, but this system embodies a fundamental principle of communication. Suggestions are posted in a public forum; all, even the most ridiculous, are responded to with clarity, conscious attention and honesty—all in a positive and constructive manner. We receive acknowledgement and appreciation for our feedback, and candor when our ideas are unfeasible. It seems all too simple, but this form of public, honest and constructive dialogue may be the essential element in creating a community of free exchange. Maybe we need to apply the concept of Fishing for Feedback to a broader setting—because it is only when both sides of a discussion feel that their voice is acknowledged, and that their ideas and limitations are met with the appropriate attitude, that ideas can become reality Fishing for Feedback reminds us that feedback should not be merely a one-way street, but rather should stem into a two-way dialogue that erases hard feelings and promotes a more personal and constructive exchange. So call the system corny, call it cheesy, call it whatever you want, but we’re “hooked.” A Definition of Terms In order to have a meaningful discussion about race, we must first define the words we often use casually, such as “race” and “diversity.” And in order to move forward and genuinely change our perspectives, we have to take action, as well as merely attending workshops and talking. As Martin Luther King, Jr. Day approaches, conversations about race, diversity and ethnicity spring up all over campus. Discourse can quickly turn to argument as a result of conflicting conceptions of these broad terms. In order to have a progressive or productive discussion, candor and respect are key. Still, it is unrealistic to claim that such a diverse group of students, coming from all over the world, will agree on what such general and oft-used terms, such as “race” and “diversity,” really mean. In order to do justice to Dr. King’s legacy, we have to accept that there is no single answer or definition. For all our talk, what we really need to do is take action, show up and educate ourselves. Without a personal context for the issues, we won’t be able to relate to one another in discussions about race and stereotypes. Without exposing ourselves to new situations and unfamiliar settings – an Asian student going to AfLatAm, a white student showing up at Asian Society – we remain stuck with a single, narrow perspective. Sitting at a table in Uncommons with the same people every day is not just monotonous, it’s small-minded. This suggestion works both ways. Clubs and organizations can do more to reach out to members who may be intimidated or feel unwelcome, simply because they are different. It is hard to be the first at anything, a newcomer to any unfamiliar frontier. As high schools go, Andover is an accepting and pluralistic community. If we can’t branch out here, in a place where people are generally respectful of their peers and mindful of differences, how will we interact in the real world? We have to do it now; we have to do it here. High school is a time in our lives when we have a chance to break down the prejudices and stereotypes we all have absorbed from our varied experiences. We may think we’re adults, but we’re still young, and there is still time for us to change our minds. At Andover, sometimes we have the privilege of viewing the world through rose-colored glasses. Instead of moving through these four years blithely and comfortably, we should use this time to reach out to one another, to create habits that we can take with us. Let’s not graduate from Andover the same people we matriculated as. Let’s not graduate being friends with the same people that we would have been friends with, had we stayed at home. It’s too easy to fall into cozy social spheres and cliques of people who hold the same interests and cultural backgrounds that we do. As we prepare ourselves for a day of no classes on Monday, we should look at this free time as an opportunity for discussion. We may not agree on what all the terms mean, but it means something that we’re all looking for an answer.