Home Away from Home

Andover has been a part of my daily life since I started nursery school. Every morning, I would sit in the back of my mother’s car wearing my pearly white sneakers and stare out the window on the drive to school. It was during these car rides that I was afforded my first glimpses of Andover. The bricks of the bell tower, the massive architecture of Sam Phil and the vivid green grass of the Great Lawn piqued my interest, even at that tender age.

It was not until I was in middle school that I began to think about the next stage of my education, and did I start to wrap my head around what Andover was really about. I first learned about the history that lay behind the bricks, the knowledge behind the big buildings and the students who sat on the lawn, soaking up the rays of the sun. Still, I had no idea that Andover would take over my life, but now, no matter how challenging the times, I would not trade my experience for anything.

Family and friends who do not know Andover always ask me how I could possibly enjoy being at school all the time. They don’t understand why I am at Andover for sometimes up to 14 hours a day, when, as a day student, I could be snugly with my family at home; they do not understand what the heck could be keeping me busy for that long. I never seem to succeed in explaining to them what Andover really means, and maybe that’s because I still can’t fully describe it. No explanation I give could ever justify how immensely important my Andover experience has been; unless you are a part of Andover, it is very difficult to understand this place. To be honest, I won’t fully know what Andover has meant to me till I leave and begin the next stage of my life away from here.

Now, as I walk around campus, with less than a month left, random memories flood my mind: putting together Andover’s first ever Holi festival on Gelb Lawn, teaching my first PACE class, leading my community service students through the low ropes course elements in the sanctuary… The most unexpected moments became learning experiences — sitting in Commons with friends discussing patriarchy, walking to GW while listening to my friend talk about gendercide in India, reading career essays that my community service students wrote… The non-stop learning characterized my Andover experience.

Leaving the people of Andover, who truly bring this institution to life, will feel like losing my family of four years. Of course, I will miss my fellow students and teachers, but there are so many others whose absence I will feel just as deeply. I will miss the Commons Staff, who were always checking in on me and giving me warm cookies exactly when I needed them. I will miss the librarians, who always welcomed me into the library and never failed to ask me about my day. I will miss my community service students who screamed my name with excitement and ran to embrace me every time I walked into their school classroom.

It is hard to believe that in a few weeks my time at Andover will be coming to an end. Wearing an elegant white dress and clutching the stem of my red rose, I will receive my diploma, the culmination of the moments, memories, tears, smiles and laughter of my time here. Although I will always have my diploma as a tangible object of my Andover experience, what matters most is that Andover will always be in my heart.

_Meera Bhan is a four-year Senior from Andover, Mass._