Commentary

From the Outside Looking In

“Ummm…hi! Do you guys have Isabel?” I panted after bursting into a first period Chemistry class. “Excuse me?” “Ummm. Well, I was wondering if she was accidentally dropped off in your class,” I tried to explain, “You see, I seem to have lost my revisit person.” I was answered with loud peals of laughter and a very confused Chemistry teaching fellow. That was how revisit day started off for me. Ten minutes later, I found the aforementioned Isabel in Mr. Maqubela’s classroom, looking slightly bemused but not upset beyond repair. She hadn’t seen me waiting outside Kemper (where we were to pick up our guests) and, assuming that I was not there, had been helped out by a few other Lowers and shown to a Chemistry class. All was not lost. She had, after all, just spent over an hour with “the teacher from the Admissions video”, and I did buy her a very delicious muffin from The Den as a peace offering. After some wholehearted apologies on my part, we sat down in the oddly quiet Den to chitchat before my next class started. And that’s when I realized that going from classroom to classroom crying “Have you seen Isabel?” was not the hardest part of the day. This girl had been judged “compatible” with me based solely on a list of interests, favorite subjects and language classes. And I was fully expected to explain to her what PA was all about in the span of a school day. It was my responsibility to tell her why it was great, why it wasn’t so great and what experiences she would have here. I found myself repeating some things I had heard tour guides say over and over, like, “So do you know what clusters are?” and other such banalities. They’re sort of like cheerleaders.” Here I was, not finding the words to explain the simplest aspects of our school. Words like “cut,” “catboner,” “townie,” “Bertucci’s,” “Head of School Day” and “Fourth Meal” had always been a part of my vocabulary, when, in actuality, I had been new to this school just a few months ago. I was able to look at the school from an outsider’s perspective, something I hadn’t done since the day I first arrived here. I remember standing, somewhat awestruck, in the stir-fry line waiting for Waldie, in his very impressive chef’s hat, to talk me through the necessary steps of ordering a stir-fry. The day turned into a rediscovery of Andover for the tour guide rather than a tour for the visitor as I explained to her why each and every class was great, how you would stay up until two a.m. debating the Palestine-Israel conflict or how, no matter what your interests are, there’s always a club or activity that you will enjoy. During my time here I have fallen into a pattern of criticizing the aspects of the school that need to be changed or modified. However, in the process, I have lost sight of how unique it is that I actually have a medium in which to do so. Maybe this is just Lower spring talking. Get back to me during Upper winter, and I’ll probably grunt unhappily and denounce this article completely. And, I suppose, nothing really sets this article apart from the many other declarations of love and gratitude that Andover’s pupils have made other than the fact that it came to me on that particular day with the help of Isabel, Mr. Maqubela’s first period Chemistry class and a chicken stir-fry. However, having looked at the school through someone else’s eyes for a day, I think that, after a stressful day or a horrible test, we should look at the bigger picture and remember why we chose to come here in the first place. It truly is a very unique place to be. Tia Baheri is a new Lower from Plano, TX.