AS IF A STONE IN RIVER, it was easy to think of myself as a resistor of societal tide. I had become a passive witness to movement, because I used to believe the waves of progress/​capitalism had gone too far, that we should all revert to living in a hut in the woods — the way humanity was intended to be. I used to believe that by working less, I was reclaiming my humanity,” ensuring I would not be a cog in a societal machine moving toward overly active living (which I thought meant collapsing at an office desk in my 20s).

In the Workshop, we started reading Thomas Mullaney and Christopher Rea’s Where Research Begins: Choosing a Research Project That Matters to You (and the World), a book detailing how we can achieve research/​learning, but most importantly, how we can research/​learn what is important to us (hint: our passions). The book’s introduction starts with the understanding that all humans have passions, yet Mullaney and Rea write that “[they] do not assume that everyone already knows what theirs are.” Explaining that they had seen too many students/​researchers/​human beings give up on discovering what they want, Mullaney and Rea lament that often, these people resort to choosing a passion” that society has pushed them. This is the kind of passionless, active life that I tried to avoid through a passive life: trying to stay still while the world pushed me to move.

But this past week, the Workshop took me to meet the leaders of Andover’s surrounding communities; they were not passively existing. At Cafe Azteca/​El Taller, Darianna Geurrero met us with slam poetry, the fight to save her city, and tostones. At temple Chùa Tường Vân, Dr. Tram Tran greeted us with prayer, the fight against bad habit energy, and homemade yogurt. Standing in the midst of their accomplishments, I realized I am something beyond stone, and so, I realized I do not want a passive, workless life. Their activism redefined my earlier interpretations of humanity,” the ones where I had missed the absolute truth that I have passions. These are the kinds of passions that build cafes and temples.

With the warning from Where Research Begins, I’ve started thinking about which of my passions have actually stemmed from myself and which will relegate me to a lifetime of unsatisfactory action; I’ve started asking myself questions like, Does anyone really want to become a consultant?” And, after meeting Darianna and Tham, I’ve stopped asking myself questions like, Does anyone really want to go into the workforce?” At the moment, the best thing I can do against the work-hard, burn-out lifestyle, is not to stare the river down and accomplish nothing. Because my passions may or may not line up with what society has in store for me, and since these passions have endowed me some insurmountable energy, I believe they can bring me out of any metaphorical river that represents my external pressures.

Progress is innately human, because every time I think about how I am here, I know it could not be possible if not for the fact that we are human. Passion keeps us alive. It will keep me moving in some direction, toward some progress that I can define on my own, toward a future without collapses, toward temple cafes, toward genuine excitement, toward feeling like I’ve been living well.



Each spring term, The Workshop welcomes approximately 20 seniors to this interdisciplinary, project-based course. With an eye toward reimagining what school can be, the Workshop is the senior’s only academic commitment for the entire term. Instead of splitting their time and attention into units of distinct courses and fields of study, they work closely with peers, faculty, and community and global partners on a series of linked, interdisciplinary projects that revolve around a single theme. Within the theme Experiments in Education, students explore areas of personal interest.

Back to Top ↑

Be a part of our community!

Subscribe to our newsletter, Notes on Learning, for monthly updates.