Over the summer, Andover hosted its Learning in the World (LITW) programs, which consisted of both in-person and virtual options. Some of the programs included “Civil Rights: The American Story,” “ACE 2’s College Road Trips,” “Confluence: Environment, Community, Culture,” and “INESLE Madrid.”
Mark Cutler, Director of LITW and Instructor in Spanish, elaborated on the program’s mission to ignite curiosity, inspire globally minded action anywhere in the world, and prepare students for engaged global citizenship. Cutler emphasized his goal for students to learn to be stewards of various other cultures, environments, and peoples. Regardless of the destination a student chooses, Cutler hopes they will become more globally conscious in their day-to-day life.
“Whatever the environment that they are in, whatever the context is, I want [students] to engage with it in such a way that they become stewards of that [environment]. How can we, as outsiders, become stewards of that? How can we help to sustain their lifestyle in such a way that is fair and just to them, while acknowledging that we have our own traditions and lifestyle? Maybe you also become more aware of who you are through those interactions,” said Cutler.
Alice Fan ’23, a participant in LITW’s Curricular Connection program to Washington, D.C. for Citizens’ Climate Lobby, commented on how the program broadened her sense of the nation’s various views on climate policy.
“It’s really good to get a broader sense, nationally, of what is happening. To have people from places like Oregon, Wyoming, and across the country come together to talk about climate legislation…. It was really cool to see adults and youth come together and discuss the future of climate policy,” said Fan.
ACE 2’s College Road Trip participant Anthony Diaz ’25 believes that LITW provides students with the opportunity to expand their worldview. In his opinion, the program offered him the chance to explore new environments and experiences.
“I believe the content of LITW was to show the world to students, whether it be in the United States or internationally. I think that’s what you’re learning in the world—whether it be colleges or being fully affiliated with cultures,” said Diaz.
Byron Johnson ’25 participated in LITW Civil Rights: The American Story. He expanded on the idea of building strong connections and emphasized the importance of being present in historical locations to deepen his understanding of history.
“Seeing everything and being in the places where historical things happened, and not just reading about it in a book, was definitely really helpful for me and made me care more about the history that I’ve been learning about for years. The enlightenment of being in those places made me think more about history,” said Johnson.
Darla Moody ’24 attended LITW’s joint program with INESLE Madrid — Institute of Spanish. She noted that the program changed her approach to learning Spanish, and helped her realize the importance of being immersed in Spanish culture and directly engaging with native speakers.
Moody said, “I had a lot of time to hang out with my family and get to know the culture via a normal and relaxed daily summer life. But then, we had days that were extremely populated with things like museum visits, and we had lots of classroom learning every week. I haven’t had a Spanish classroom experience that was that good at colloquialisms and very, very native things. Nowadays, to learn Spanish, I don’t rely on school as much as I try to surround myself with Spanish memes and talk to my Spanish relatives and my Spanish host family on our old group chat.”
Cutler advises prospective LITW students to take risks. He added that the experience of a LITW program is unique and requires students to jump out of their comfort zone.
“Taking this risk, and giving up what you are comfortable with, giving up the idea of routine, giving up the idea of perfection so that you can go off and experience this completely imperfect, completely disorienting experience, you can go off and experience this whole thing. That, for me, is what it’s about. Go ahead and just take the risk—dive in, immerse yourself, don’t look back,” said Cutler.
Cutler captured the essence of LITW with a question he commonly poses to students: Where do you see yourself in the world? He hopes the question will make people reflect on their role as global citizens.
“The idea is that it’s not only geographically ‘where do you see yourself in the world?’ but also ‘how do you want to position yourself to be an engaged global citizen, now and in your future?’ I want kids to come in, I want adults to come in, and answer this question with me: ‘Where do you see yourself in the world?’” said Cutler.