Reading Beyond the Headline

An alert from “The New York Times” pops up on my phone. I read the headline without thinking before quickly swiping the notification away. I forget about it until someone mentions the news at dinner, when I enthusiastically add, “I saw that, too!” Armed with only the knowledge of the headline, I have nothing else to say on the issue. The conversation shifts and – just like that – moves away from an opportunity to discuss something far more important than the burdens of our little Andover universe: real, consequential events in the world.

In the February 13 issue of the The Phillipian, Sewon Park ’17 urged the Andover community to spend more time familiarizing itself with global news, stressing the importance of international issues. As I was reading her article, I realized that I was looking it over with the same scant attention that I paid my phone notification. I did not think I was the audience of her article – I had the “New York Times” app after all. While many of us may believe ourselves to be global citizens, the reality is that it is too easy to be caught up in the “Andover Bubble.” Andover students need to actively immerse themselves in national and international news.

Just two days after Park’s article ran, 21 Egyptian Christians were beheaded by a Libyan branch of the radical terrorist group Islamic State, who promptly released a video of the decapitations to the public. Unsurprisingly, the news manifested itself on campus as only a notification on a screen – conversation about the abhorrent issue was limited and quickly subsided. Discussion of the event was deemed secondary to school work and campus clubs. It appeared to be too much of a challenge to even read the stories in the news, much less bring them out into the air of our campus and work to recognize their significance.

I do not understand how some Andover students assert – even jokingly – that they might be the future leaders of the world if some cannot even locate countries like Egypt and Libya on a map. I have no doubt that most students could tell you without hesitation which Co-President pair they think will win or their opinions on the film adaptation of “50 Shades of Grey”; however, we need to place a similar importance on the serious implications of worldwide events. While many of us have been obsessing over Spring Break plans and the upcoming Blue and Silver Dance, news of the Greek Eurozone crisis or the terrorist attacks in Copenhagen has more or less slipped by Andover’s radar.

To me, this is devastating. Our general lack of international awareness is an injustice not only to this institution but also to ourselves. I am in no way trying to invalidate the Andover community. We must, however, expand our horizons beyond campus limits.
It is my hope that one day, Andover, as a school that prides itself on creating citizens of the world, will incorporate lessons of global consciousness into our class curriculums. Until then, it is our responsibility to stay up to date on world events. With the ubiquity of smartphones and other hand-held devices, news outlets are at our fingertips. It is not enough to simply download an app that sends breaking news to your screen; we have to make a conscious effort to actually open the notification, read beyond the headline and ask even more questions.

Now, I start every morning by reading the Morning Briefing in “The New York Times,” sent to my email each day with the subject, “What You Need to Know to Start Your Day.” I call upon every member of this community to adopt a similar routine. We have no excuse to remain ignorant to the world around us. Discover that there is more around us than just endless piles of homework and snow.