(Not) For Self

One of my major reasons for choosing Andover was the concept of Non Sibi. I loved how community service extended to the classroom, campus and beyond. It seemed like a perfect motto to guide everyday life at Andover and make a generally kind campus. When I arrived at Andover last fall for my first year, I wasn’t able to participate in any community service projects for multiple reasons. I tried to find a project that would work with my schedule, but I had athletic commitments, then music lessons, then clubs, then studying… where could I find almost two hours in my week? (And I didn’t have a free period!) I was in a bind, torn between continuing my passion for service and my other commitments. As the year ended and I travelled to India with the Niswarth program, I really started to question the reality of Non Sibi at Andover. Especially with the new changes in Non-Sibi Day, which require only new students to participate, it seems like Non Sibi may be more of an ideal than a reality. Yes, the motto is engraved on our crest, and the administration mentions it daily as a guiding force in everything we do. As students, however, how Non Sibi are we actually? As stated on the Andover website, Andover claims that 90 percent of students engage in community service, but the majority of these students participate only a few times in their entire time at Andover, and some do so only on Non-Sibi Day. Does this fact really encompass the true meaning of Non Sibi? To me, community service, especially Non Sibi, means doing something for the good of others, not yourself. If you are required to spend only one day doing service, which in actuality is only a few hours, can you really claim that this is a selfless act? It seems more like a ploy to defend our claim about the importance and prevalence of Non Sibi on campus than actually having students adhere to Non Sibi principles. We are easily satisfied with a once a year community service endeavor because we trust students enough to incorporate Non Sibi into their daily lives throughout the school year. Students, however, aren’t as involved in community service under the Non Sibi principles as we believe. Many students participate in community service not because they are really interested in serving “not for one’s self” but rather because it will spruce up theirs college applications and because it will enable them to spend time with friends. How can the Andover community uphold its belief in Non Sibi but incorporate it into the daily life of the student body? Unfortunately, forcing all students to be tied to a yearlong community service program is not the best option. Obviously, Andover students are pressed for time and may pursue other interests than community service. Also, if service is mandatory, it fails to act as a bulwark for the morals of the community. Community service at Andover is intentionally a voluntary entreprise so that students are passionate about their projects and can find projects for different levels of time commitment. In practice, however, community service at Andover is very difficult to manage. Community service sign ups happen for only a short while in the beginning of the year, when students barely have time to catch up with friends, buy books and get through the first week of classes. This small window of opportunity gets lost in everything else that competes for a student’s time, especially at the start of school. And even if you find the time to make it to sign ups, you are often faced with the problem of knowing your schedule to pick an appropriate project. There must be an easier way to make projects more accessible. Without a doubt, Andover has some amazing community service opportunities, but the campus doesn’t really fully embrace Non Sibi. Requiring Non Sibi each was an easy escape from this issue, but this option didn’t truly encompass the morals of Non Sibi. Unfortunately, in reality, the rest of the year also doesn’t live up to ideals of Non Sibi that should serve as a foundation for Andover. Mikaela Rabb is a two-year Upper from Brentwood, TN.