Commentary

Youth from Every Dorm

The idea of “youth from every quarter” is one of Andover’s many unofficial mottos, which has been ingrained in us since the moment we stepped foot on campus. We learned that this motto represented Andover’s commitment to diversity within its student body. This diversity is meant to open our eyes to different cultures, backgrounds and personalities and mold us into global citizens. Every student comes from a different place to experience what Andover has to offer. We live everywhere from Alaska to Germany, from Seoul to Los Angeles, in cities, on farms, in suburbs and on the beach. We are meant to represent a wide range of people who hold different experiences, traditions and views on the world so that we can come together and learn from each other. Coming from Vancouver, Washington, a small, predominantly Asian- and Caucasian-filled city, I was truly closed off and ignorant in my views on people from different regions of the world. The only things I knew about people from the the South was whatever little information I could gather from blockbuster movies and from my mother when she went on business trips. These sources of information led me to believe that Southern people did two things: eat fried food and say “y’all” while giving everyone warm hellos and hugs. I simply did not know anything more. Luckily, mere seconds after arriving at Andover, I would begin my education in all aspects of Southern living, taught by my roommate from Houston, Texas, who became one of my best friends. Andover has given me the chance to gain a new and more accurate perspective on the world that I would not have been able to experience back home. I have been exposed to everything from the passionate monologues on the stage to the wet and chilly, yet hardcore sport of crew, and all from people with radically different backgrounds from mine. However, I have also noticed that as we progress with our journey here at PA, we begin to grow more similar in how we dress, talk and generally act. Slowly, we start to mold into the same shape, speaking in the same vernacular, developing similar styles (North Face backpacks and Bean Boots) and forming concurrent opinions on certain topics. Not long after I arrived at Andover, I abandoned my PC for a Mac and switched to talking in a steady stream of inside jokes. We seem to clump together in little groups that form as one: one class, one team, one dorm. When, in our many weeks here, did we begin to meld together, emerging as a collective unit? If the purpose of Andover is to bring together “youth from every quarter,” it is counter-intuitive that we quickly abandon our diverse quirks in order to better fit in with each other. Sometimes it seems like we might as well let 1,100 Hunter-wearing, Vineyard Vines-toting, lacrosse-playing New Englanders matriculate, because that’s what we all seem to be by the time Commencement rolls around. Although it may look as if we are slightly bending our roots and beliefs, I don’t think it is because we’re trying to fit in. I think that this change occurs because the purpose of having “youth from every quarter” is being fulfilled, and we are opening our eyes to other views and perspectives that change and push our original beliefs. By grouping different people together, we allow ourselves to become exposed to various opinions and begin to point in a new direction by taking little bits from everyone else. Slowly but surely, with everyone building and taking from each other, we start to align in many ways. Thus we adopt a sort of Andover culture, born from the merging of various other ones. By adapting and molding based on the information we are given, we strip away our ignorance and let ourselves explore the best that everyone on this campus has to offer. This exchange of ideas is crucial in creating a better Andover, and hopefully later on, a better world. So the next time in chapel when you hear the phrase “youth from every quarter,” take it to heart, and learn to take in the best that Andover has to offer, because it will change you for the better. Christiana Nguyen is a two-year lower from Vancouver, WA.