“We are all familiar with our school’s motto, Non Sibi, [meaning] ‘not for self.’ This phrase is not an empty one, but one that carries tremendous value for me and [for] how it manifests itself in the real world. And so, I have a challenge to propose: Be an active and an aware member of the community,” said Alba Disla ’15 during All-School Meeting (ASM) on Wednesday.
Disla worked alongside administrators of Envision, a London-based, nonprofit organization that helps youth organize community projects to share teenagers’ perspective on community service, as part of her Lorant Fellowship this past summer.
The Lorant Fellowship is awarded to three Uppers each year who display “earnest endeavor.” One student is granted a fund of up to $6,000 to travel to Europe, Africa or the Middle East during the summer to experience various aspects of unique cultures. The other two nominees were Bryan McGuiggin ’15 and Eun Jae Kim ’15.
“It took me to go across the Atlantic to see that students our age are doing the same things as we are — using our knowledge to better the world. The challenge of serving the community lies in remembering Andover every step of the way and using what we know and what we’ve been given to enhance the experience of others,” she said.
While in London, Disla worked in the Envision offices, typically spending her time at a desk inputting data into a computer. Disla recalled visiting a local community service fair on one of the rare occasions when she was not working in the offices.
“I got to really apply what I was inputting into the computer to the real world, and I was basically selling Envision to other people. The people who went to this community service fair were looking for ways to get involved with their community,” said Disla in an interview with The Phillipian.
Both Disla’s work with Envision and the visit to the community service fair led her to discover parallels between Envision and Andover.
“In many ways, the mindset of student members of Envision reflects the mindset of those at Andover. The emergence of [Feminism is Equality] two years ago, the More Than Just a Number campaign and the Phillipian articles show that our community has been more than vocal about topics we are passionate about,” said Disla.
“I guess just realizing how important it is that people like us recognize the fact that we have voices and our opinions matter, and we have a lot of power even though we don’t think we do. I think that, at places like Andover, we have all of these resources at our fingertips like the financial resources, the human resources, the adults we can rely on and information we have as an institution,” she said in an interview for The Phillipian.
Along with her job of entering data, Disla had the opportunity to sit in on meetings to help plan outreach programs for local communities.
“I worked alongside the CEO, the head financing as well as individual project coordinators. Before the summer, I viewed the community service program at Andover from a very naive perspective. I didn’t know there were some people higher up in authority that owned these organizations. The ones actually doing the work, they were the faces of nonprofits,” said Disla.
After seeing the teenagers go out into their communities with the little resources they had and make a difference, Disla began to see the amount of power each individual had when it came to affecting change.
“The fact that [Andover] has a platform like The Phillipian and the power to create clubs and organizations about issues important to the students is a huge privilege,” said Disla.
“If you have something you are passionate about, host a workshop or a forum to teach people about it and them why you’re passionate about it. Tell them why it’s important for others to learn about the issue,” continued Disla.