Clean Up Your Act

As a day student, I often have weekend meals with my family at home. Before I came to Andover, I had a habit of always washing my own dishes and sometimes offered to help with the rest of the family’s. I didn’t need to think about it. My mind could be somewhere else entirely, but my hands would not fail to grab the sponge and soap to rinse my silverware. Once I entered Andover, I started eating the majority of my meals on campus. After every meal, I walk over to the conveyor belt in the corner of Paresky Commons, put down my plate and cup, place my fork, spoon and knife in the bucket and leave. At first, I found this system amazing, and I appreciated its convenience. But after a few months, the need to marvel at the Commons system left me. I grew accustomed to it and started taking it for granted. Putting my plate down and leaving after eating became second nature to the point that even when I ate at home I began placing my empty plate on the counter and heading elsewhere, forgetting to wash my dish. It took me a while to realize that, at home, my plate wasn’t going anywhere. I’m the one who actually has to wash it. It’s not that I minded washing my own plates, but it was no longer instinctive. In Commons, all we have to do is walk over to the corner, and everything is all set from there. It is so easy just to comply with the Commons system, but recently, we’ve started leaving messes in the dining halls that show that some of us don’t even do the basics. To those outside of Andover, it may seem as if this school spoils us. This is not entirely true, as undoubtedly we work hard to get our schoolwork done. But it may seem that we lose sense of what we are given. The glamour of this school slowly fades in our eyes when our minds are too busy being stressed, when we have our noses stuck in a textbook as we study at the last minute for the test next period or when we bury ourselves in conversations with our friends. Everything we do becomes a part of our daily routines here at Andover. We go to our classes, we do our homework, we go to sports practice and we eat our meals. Unfortunately, for some of us, cleaning up after ourselves after the meals has failed to become part of that routine, as exemplified by our messes in the Commons and the Den. We get used to the idea that someone else will come along and clean up for us. It doesn’t seem essential for us to bother to clean it ourselves. However, leaving a mess in Commons shows that we don’t appreciate our school. We are told over and over again that we are lucky to be here at Andover, and many of us do realize that. Unfortunately, there are only a few things that we can do to clearly demonstrate our appreciation. What counts are the little things we do to show that we truly deserve to be here and recognize what it means to be at Andover. Cleaning up after ourselves in Commons is one of them. It shows that we do not take the people who make our education possible for granted. By cleaning up after ourselves, we can prove that we respect the staff at Commons, respect our campus and that we take care of ourselves, each other and the school. Hence, we must live up to our motto: non sibi. Ada Li is a Junior from Reading, MA.