As we approach the end of Winter Term’s initial two-week stretch, holiday season is upon us. Much of American culture deems this time of year as one dedicated to Christmas, a traditionally Christian holiday. Though Andover is an American-based school, we are an intentionally diverse community, with one of our core values being “Youth From Every Quarter.” As such, the festivities from every corner we have access to should similarly be celebrated. Celebration can look different from person to person, ranging from learning about new traditions through club events to joining festivities with your friends.
The holiday season often prompts togetherness and time to spend with loved ones. While we often apply this on an individual level, as we find ways to reunite with family members and celebrate with friends, there are ways we can find unity across cultures and groups larger than what we are familiar with. The cold, bleak winter season feels isolating at times, but on a campus surrounded by our peers coming from different places and hometowns, there arises an opportunity to build intercultural connections and enjoy the company at the same time. Regardless of faith or personal beliefs, this season can be seen as a time to seek comfort from the abundance of diverse people holding together this campus.
With students hailing from 49 countries and 43 states, Andover reflects the geographical diversity of a worldwide institution. This intentional diversity encompasses a vast range of cultural and religious identities, all of which call for celebration this holiday season. Andover’s diversity transcends the traditional narrative of the American melting pot. Students at Andover do not conform to a single, generalized identity. Instead, the individuality of each person, constructed by our unique cultural background, shines even clearer among each other. Each student brings with them personal experiences, religious beliefs, and cultural practices, unique contributions that flourish alongside those of their 1200 peers. By celebrating each unique tradition, we can add to Andover’s rich culture.
Instead of viewing other cultures’ holiday events as intimidating or unfamiliar, see it as an opportunity to understand the significance of these celebrations. It can broaden your horizons, helping you understand why and how certain customs, traditions, and even certain foods are tied to that specific holiday. If you don’t celebrate a specific holiday around this season, it’s a way for you to join in on the holiday spirit and be a part of the fun. Andover’s diverse student body and aim for inclusivity provide many great opportunities to expand your cultural awareness and your general understanding of the world. We may feel as though we live in a bubble on campus, but we forget that students come from all corners of the globe, and have all kinds of perspectives to share. Together, we can foster an environment that encourages cultural diversity and learning.
We acknowledge that diving into new traditions and cultures can be intimidating and to some extent, uncomfortable. But instead of shying away from a new experience, lean into the discomfort of learning something new. Andover is a school that aims to foster global citizens–that is, being aware and taking part of society on a worldwide scale–by providing a world-facing education. It follows, then, that we ought to be aware of how to have fun from a global perspective as well. This holiday season, seize the occasion to listen in or attend a student-led meeting, to join a legion of people in memorializing these magical weeks at the edge of 2023.
Looking past just this holiday season, we urge Andover students to take advantage of their unique opportunity to learn about others’ cultures and immerse themselves in the real celebrations of their peers. Respect for other cultures comes from education, helping reshape our worldview and building bridges across cultural divides. As we look forward, let’s embrace this mindset. The respect we build through education is what we need for a more inclusive and understanding world.