The Impact of Paresky Commons Workers in the Andover Community Cultural Connection and Disconnection Between Andover Students and Paresky Workers

Pouring coffee and wiping down tables are just a few of the jobs Paresky Commons kitchen and Susie’s staff do each day to provide meals for the Andover community. Employed by Aramark, many commute from Lawrence each day to their job at Andover. Over the years of Aramark’s partnership with Andover, many of the employees have formed relationships with a number of students and their own co-workers. 

Many of the Paresky workers get along with the student body at Andover. Paresky worker Zulema Jiménez serves coffee during breakfast and lunch. According to Jiménez, many of the students are amicable. 

“[The students] are very educated, very friendly. There are good relationships [between​ the students and the workers…] We treat each other like family [at Andover] because most of our time will be spent here,” said Jiménez. 

Karina Reynoso, a worker at Susie’s, shared that the Andover community treats her and other Aramark employees fondly despite their level of shared cultural connection with them. 

“There isn’t a cultural barrier because you [students] talk a lot with us, ask us questions, and at times the students are also from where we’re from. [We have] very good relationships. [There is] not a wall [between students and Paresky workers], but we still respect each other because we’re adults and you guys are students, obviously,” said Reynoso. 

Despite Reynoso’s perspective, some students do find that there is a cultural barrier. Ben Perez ’23, a Latino, Spanish-speaking student, observed that there is a potential language barrier that exists between students who are not comfortable with speaking Spanish and Paresky workers, who predominantly speak Spanish.

“I think [a cultural barrier exists] a little, especially between […] the students that don’t speak Spanish. If [someone] speaks Spanish, it helps their communication with Commons workers a lot,” said Perez. “For me personally, I always speak with them because the majority of them are from Lawrence, and I’m from Boston, and I go to Lawrence a lot to get my hair cut or eat, things like that. But I imagine that yes, I can see how there could be a difference between a student from Greenwich, Connecticut and someone from [Lawrence, for example]. It can be very different.” 

Ozochi Onunaku ’25, a two-year lower, has also found there to be a cultural barrier of sorts. He attributed it mainly to language, which he reported could evolve into small acts of inconsideration.

“Because we might speak two different languages, some students don’t really know how to communicate with [Paresky workers], students are not considerate of them, because of the cultural barrier. So, if we were to mess up and spill a drink or something they wouldn’t clean up after themselves, they’re kind of like: ‘these Commons workers got it, they’re cleaning up, I’m chilling,’ something like that. The language barrier can lead to cultural misunderstanding that adds to a gap of understanding between the two groups of people,” said Onunaku. 

However, many students find familiarity in the cultural backgrounds of Paresky staff. Justin Parker ’24 shared their experience as a person of color at the school, and seeing a part of the Andover community with similar demographics to them. 

“I love the Commons workers, they’re really nice and it’s like a way to see me reflected as a [person of color] at a [Predominantly White Institution]. You know, it’s just like sometimes I need familiar faces to see around and they’re really nice, especially once you get to know them… But it’s nice, seeing people that look like you in a place where there are not many people that look like you, it’s validating in a sort of way,” said Parker.

Kamila Garcia ’25, a Dominican student at Andover, had a similar experience to Parker. Garcia mentioned that she regularly speaks to Paresky workers – often about a shared hometown of Lawrence, Massachusetts. 

“I speak to them in Spanish all the time, especially the people in Susie’s. They know that I speak Spanish and I’ll have little conversations with them and stuff like that. I’ve even talked about hair salons in Lawrence with them. So, yeah, definitely there is a cultural connection there,” said Garcia.

Regardless of a person’s experience with Spanish or their ability to communicate with Paresky employees, Perez added that there are small things each student can do to be polite. For example, he suggested, greeting and being friendly with the workers is important to build relationships with them as Andover community members. 

“I think it’s important to always say ‘hi,’ ‘greetings,’ and ‘thank you.’ It’s important to recognize the work that [Paresky workers] do because if they don’t do it, we cannot eat. To show that we see that they are people, not like robots who are only making the food,” said Perez.