New “Babel” Foreign Language Magazine Highlights Ancient History in Modern Culture

Born in Madrid to French and Spanish parents, Adriana Virgili Alovisetti ’15 has harbored a love of traveling and foreign languages. Virgili Alovisetti is just one of many students who have found a cultural outlet in the upcoming “Babel” magazine, which will exhibit student foreign language writing. Showcasing non-fiction writing alongside photographs and cartoons, “Babel” is a forthcoming student-run foreign language magazine that will revolve around the theme of modern cultural aspects rooted in ancient history. The magazine will feature foreign language pieces, accompanied by English translations. One piece, written by Veronica Nutting ’16, discusses progressivism in Argentina in the context of gay rights. Another, by Virgili Alovisetti, talks about the French tradition of kissing on the cheek when greeting others. Kay Xia ’15 and Cathy Liu ’15 started “Babel” because of their fascination with the array of cultures present at Andover and wanted to create something that could capture the cultural diversity of the school. “Babel” is named after The Tower of Babel, a structure referenced in the Bible. As the story goes, a group of people congregated in the tower but couldn’t communicate because they all spoke different languages. “Andover is, in a sense, similar to the Tower of Babel in that everyone comes from a different background, and sometimes that can lead to misunderstandings or miscommunication. Our magazine aims to provide an opportunity for students to express their diverse backgrounds and share their cultures,” said Xia. Each article in the magazine must relate to the language it is written in, but they do not have to be about the writer’s own culture. Proficiency in the language is all that is needed to write for “Babel.” Language editors like Virgili Alovisetti will provide expertise and cultural insight to help polish student writing. “[The language editors] have a high level of proficiency in their respective languages. They make sure nothing gets ‘lost in translation’ and that both the English and foreign language versions of the piece express the writer correctly,” said Liu. Though she attends school abroad, Virgili Alovisetti maintains strong emotional ties to her home country. “I really like being here at Andover, but today when my friend sent me a picture of jamón [a Spanish ham dish], and I was like ‘Oh my god, I miss it.’ But I miss it because I really like it, and when I’m here, I just appreciate Spanish things more,” said Virgili Alovisetti. Another editor hailing from Madrid is Isabel Tejera-Sindell ’15, who serves as a Spanish Language Editor alongside Virgili Alovisetti. “My Spanish background is what I can bring to the Andover community. That’s part of my identity, and the fact that I can write about that and people will read it and be interested in it is kind of the reason I’m writing for ‘Babel,’” said Tejera-Sindell. As a child, Tejera-Sindell would sit around a campfire and tell stories with her friends and family. This childhood pastime blossomed into a passion for writing that Tejera-Sindell is bringing to the work she does for “Babel.” “Writing is my passion. It’s the reason that I live. That’s what I like to do and the fact that I get to do that in my first language for ‘Babel’ is such an incredible opportunity and not something that I could do anywhere else. That’s why I’m looking forward to writing, editing and publishing ‘Babel,’” said Tejera-Sindell. Frank Geng ’15, one of the French language editors for “Babel,” has been studying the language since middle school. Geng is fascinated by how closely intertwined French culture is with American culture. He enjoys the new perspective on the United States studying French provides him with. “I think that Andover gives students lots of opportunities to express themselves in English. There’s The Phillipian, ‘Backtracks,’ ‘Frontline.’ But there’s a lot of kids on this campus who don’t necessarily only speak English, and if you don’t have enough media for them to convey their ideas, then it’s not truly representative of the Andover community,” said Geng. “With foreign language magazines, you gain a more global perspective. Writing in a foreign language is different than writing in English, but it’s equally as gratifying,” continued Geng.